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A new best practice guide aims to eliminate unrealistic deadlines and overly long scripts to address auditioners’ anxieties.

man learning lines in front of camera
Covid-19 has caused an increase in self-taped audition requests

Unrealistic demands on actors submitting self-taped auditions have prompted a new code of best practice. 

The guide created by performers’ union Equity aims to put an end to unrealistic deadlines and overly long scripts, responding to the uptick in self-taped audition requests during the pandemic.

The Casting Directors’ Guild – one of the guide’s co-developers – has made the guide mandatory for its members. It worked with the Personal Managers’ Association and Co-operative Personal Management Association to agree the guide with Equity.


A key focus is turnaround times and script lengths, subjects that have caused “much anxiety” for artists during the pandemic.

“The new code addresses the concerns brought to our attention by our members and ensures that we now will have a system that respects artists during the audition process," Equity TV and Radio Official Tim Gale said.

The code stipulates a four-day minimum turnaround for audition tapes, which can request actors learn a maximum of six pages of lines.

A minimum three-day turnaround is acceptable for scripts up to three pages long, and no artist should be asked to learn more than six pages, two roles, or two scenes on a single tape.

Equity members who receive self-tape requests that do not follow the code should report it to the Casting Directors’ Guild.

Guild chair Victor Jenkins said the new standards will protect all parties involved in self-taped auditions.

“The world is adapting to the current situation, and it is vital that we listen to each other and respond accordingly."

Self-tapes for students

The guide may prove useful to prospective acting students after several conservatoires confirmed to ArtsProfessional they will keep self-tape auditions during the next academic year.

The emergence of self-taped auditions in response to social distancing prompted calls for a ‘temporary amnesty’ on audition fees.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) said applicants will have the opportunity to audition live or submit a tape next year, depending on the programme. It will publish guidelines on its website with at least two weeks’ notice.

The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts says it is “confident” its first round of auditions, scheduled to be held online, will follow Equity’s new guidelines.

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire will continue initial self-tape auditions for prospective BA Acting students, with guidelines available on its website. 

A spokesperson said the conservatoire plans to share Equity’s new guide with its current final year actors.

Theatre writer Carl Woodward, who has lobbied for drama schools to axe fees for self-taped auditions, referred to the guide as an “important starting point” for the sector.

“I would look at it as positive hope for a culture change. Joined-up thinking is exotic and often in short supply when it comes to auditions. But we have to start somewhere.”

Deaf and Disabled talent

D/deaf and disabled performers should get extra time to prepare for auditions and discuss their access needs.

The advice from Equity’s Deaf and Disabled Members Committee aims to make self-taped auditions more accessible to D/deaf and disabled actors. Casting teams are responsible for sending documents in accessible formats and hiring a British Sign Language interpreter if need be, the committee says. 

If a casting director is unsure how to make the process fully accessible, the guide suggests contacting disability and access advisers and consultants.

Committee member Dan Edge believes the guide will be “vitally important” for deaf and disabled creatives.

“Having mutually agreed standards will give all parties more consistency to enable better auditions, leading to better productions, thus supporting a stronger recovery for our industry as it begins to open up again. 

“It will also allow for better working conditions for performers, leading to a much-needed, improved and more realistic work-life balance in what is an already a demanding industry.”