Michael Gordin Shore
Actor - Teacher - Coach

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The Meaning of the Words Chameleon, Audition, Survival, and Training


The Etymology of Chameleon Audition Survival Training

 
Chameleon:
There are 156 species of Chameleons that we know of and they can all change colors, yet their name does not reflect that ability. In fact, it is the ferocious defensive behaviour of these little lizards that actually led to the ancient Greeks to name them 'Dwarf Lions' - 'Chamai Leons', and what led Michael Gordin Shore to name his system for training actors after them. We use the word chameleon today to describe an inconstant unreliable person who is always changing their colors, or a person who hides their true colors and pretends to be whatever they think the other person wants them to be, neither of which is a compliment, and we also use it to describe a person who adjusts quickly to new circumstances, which is a useful and necessary skill for an actor to possess, but none of these uniquely human behaviours reflect the actual behaviour of the Chameleon, one of nature’s smallest top predators.
 
As a working actor you will often audition against actors you recognize from television or the movies, and it can be intimidating unless you remember that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. We must be ferocious in our work ethic and in our approach. Our job requires us to step up. We have to be able to compete and succeed if we are to Survive. We must see ourselves as the little guy, the underdog, and we must do what we can to be the last Survivor. We have to attack our preparation work and then attack the audition, we must make bold, strong choices and then attack them, we have to leave Them with their jaws hanging open if we want to be the top predator in the room. When the underdog wins, it’s almost always because he worked harder, was more ferocious, was unrelenting, and because he wouldn’t stay down no matter how many times he was put there. Think Rocky. Don’t be in the middle of the pack, don’t even be a part of the pack. Be the predator that is hunting the pack; and the Chameleon is, after all, the predator they won’t see coming.
 
And not because they change colors to blend into the background and hide. People misunderstand Chameleons. In the wild, green Chameleons tend to live in green areas and brown Chameleons tend to live in brown areas so their camouflage from the occasional predator is, ironically, their true colors. Chameleons don’t change their colors to blend in and not be noticed, they change their colors to communicate. And they don’t change their colors to hunt. To hunt, to Survive, they move like actors must, slowly and deliberately, using stillness to their advantage, and armed with their only weapon, a dangerous, extraordinarily quick tongue.
 
If Chameleons actually did change their colors to hunt prey or blend into the background to hide from predators we might draw an obvious but unfortunate, unhealthy, and unintended parallel to the arts of acting and auditioning, that by simply adjusting ourselves, changing ourselves to blend into the background or to even to best fit the given situation, we will most effectively increase our chances of being successful, but that’s not why Chameleons change their colors, and that’s not how C.A.S.T. teaches actors to succeed. Yes they can change their colors at will, but Chameleons simply don’t do it for the reasons you were told.   Contrary to popular belief, they don’t change their colors to in order blend in with their background unless they feel like it, they don’t change their colors to hide from predators or to hunt prey, they change their colors to express themselves. They change their colors regularly and brilliantly to communicate their mood, their feelings, and their intentions to other Chameleons, or simply because they choose to.  
 
With only one exception known to science, a single species of dwarf chameleon recently discovered to have developed the adaptation in Australia, no Chameleon ever changes its colors to blend into the background in order to protect itself, to hide, or to disguise itself from potential prey, ever. It doesn’t have to. Never forget, at home in it's natural environment the Chameleon is already one of nature’s best armed and most effective predators, some call it a top or apex predator, and it doesn’t need to change itself, what it looks like, or how it presents itself to be that. The actor as an artist needs to profoundly understand the parallel between himself or herself and the Chameleon.  Yes, the ability to adjust and to adapt at will is paramount, in fact it’s our job description, and yes, it’s a useful skill to be able to flash our shiny colors and to be able to turn it on and off when it suits us, but remember that everything you need to succeed and to excel is already a part of you, and you don’t have to change yourself or present yourself in a certain way to hunt or to hide or to please anyone else. Just like the Chameleon, if you are in your natural environment your true colors are all you really need to Survive, the rest is just flash, effect, movie magic. One last thing to learn from the tiny Chameleon: if you’re a little guy and you want to succeed, if you want to Survive, it helps to be a ferocious fighter and a dangerous predator with a very fast tongue.
 

Audition:
audition [ɔːˈdɪʃən]
n
1. a trial performance to appraise an entertainer's merits for a particular role, etc
 
2. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Physiology) the act, sense, or power of hearing
 
3. the act of hearing; especially : a critical hearing <an audition of new recordings>
 
Vb
4. to judge by means of or be tested in an audition
 
There’s a lot about hearing in the definition of Audition, C.A.S.T. invites actors to take that as a reminder to listen. 
As actors, we live under a microscope, and we are never more aware of it than when we are in the Audition room. No matter how prepared we feel, no matter how confident we are when we walk in, the power and emptiness of the room can be intimidating, almost overwhelming; it can easily suck the life and confidence out of an actor and out of a scene, if you let it. Imagine: you’re here to perform a short play but there’s no furniture, no props, no costume, no set, nothing but a chair, a mark on the floor, and a blank wall behind you. And the empty room is, at times, filled to the point of bursting with the loudest silence you have ever heard. There may be a handful of people ten feet away behind a table making notes and occasionally staring at you, but they’re hard to see because there’s blindingly bright lights to aid the camera which is sitting on a tripod 8 feet away with the lights glinting off the lens and you can half see it between the bright lights and it’s pointed straight at you and it looks like a gun and you feel like you are standing in front of a firing squad and everyone’s voices sound very far away like when you have a high fever and all you can hear is your heart beat. Now relax. Breathe. Be charming, own the room, attack the scene, and nail the audition. And whatever you do don’t look at the camera, unless it’s one of the times They want you to look at the camera, like when you’re slating. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, or if this is the way you see the audition room, you definitely need C.A.S.T.. In truth the audition room is filled with people who want you to do well, people who are looking forward to seeing your work, people who are on your side. C.A.S.T. will demystify the process for you so that you can thrive in this environment.
 
Whether you call it fear or excitement, the adrenalin will almost always kick in, you may stop breathing, and your lines may suddenly be gone, so you will be glad the only thing you have in your occasionally quivering hand is your script, even though of course you memorized your lines. Even the pros sweat sometimes, the pressure and the nerves are probably always going to feel like they’re there when you Audition and especially when you act on set, where the stakes are even higher. So if you can’t eliminate the nerves completely, even when you are completely prepared and extremely confident, the question is what are you going to do about it, how are you going to handle it, especially if you are auditioning every day or even every week. Are you and your scene, your play, your performance, going to implode, or can you breathe your way through it, get yourself back on track and get your attention back onto your scene partner? Can you deal with the stress? It’s extremely difficult to get past the feeling that we are being tested or judged in an Audition when the definition of the word Audition as a verb is “to judge by means of or be tested in an Audition”, the latter of which is defined as “A trial performance to appraise an entertainer’s merits for a particular role”. The word Performance here should remind the actor that he or she is here to perform a piece of work that they have created, and they have a captive audience who actually wants to see the work, and that unless they book the role, this is the only chance they will ever have to perform this particular short play or scene. Actors, focus on that foremost. Dealing with nerves is a lifelong issue for most actors, yet there are simple technical solutions to every situation, so get the right training and develop them.  
 
At the end of the day, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t book the role, we are not being judged as people in the Audition room, and unless we do something drastically inappropriate we are not being judged as actors. We are being judged as characters who are appropriate or not appropriate for a specific role according to the tastes of the director and producers of that project, and the decision to cast us or not cast us may be based on something we actually had control over, or it may be based on something that was beyond our control, something we will never even be aware of. Maybe you didn’t book the role because you were three inches too tall to work with a short celebrity who doesn’t like working with tall actors. We can only control that which we can control, so focus on that. Still, we are being considered for a specific role in today’s Audition, and at the end of the day, we will either be chosen or not. Simply put, yes. It’s true. In each audition for each role, we and our performances, our choices and the way we play them, are being judged by people who may or may not hire us. There’s no way around that, so make sure you blow their socks off.
 

Survival Training:
 
Survival training is the studying and application of Survival Skills, which are techniques a person may use in a dangerous situation to save him or herself.
 
Survival Training is a discipline that instructs individuals on the methods of surviving in isolated and dangerous environments without the benefit of modern conveniences, and is often considered a sub-category of outdoor education. Almost all Survival Skills are environment specific and require training in a particular environment, .ie Deep Water Survival Training, Cold Water Survival Training, Jungle Survival Training, Arctic Survival Training, etc..  Survival training has many components, mental competence and physical fitness being only two. Mental competence includes as well as many other facets, the ability to admit the existence of a crisis, remain cool under fire and have tools to overcome panic if and when it sets in, ensuring the ability to think clearly even when the adrenalin is flowing. Theoretical knowledge of survival skills involves much intensive academic study and is useful only if hands on application of the skills taught can be practiced in the appropriate environment.
 

Survival:
 
sur•viv•al   [ser-vahy-vuh l] 
noun
1. the act or fact of surviving, especially under adverse or unusual circumstances.
2. a person or thing that survives or endures, especially an ancient custom, observance, belief, or the like.
3: a state of surviving; remaining alive [syn: endurance]
4: a natural process resulting in the evolution of organisms best adapted to the environment [syn: survival of the fittest, natural selection, selection]
5: something that survives
adjective
4. of, pertaining to, or for use in surviving, especially under adverse or unusual circumstances: survival techniques or survival training.
 
sur•vive
verb /sərˈvīv/ 
1.      Continue to live or exist, esp. in spite of danger or hardship
         - against all odds the child survived
 
2.      Continue to live or exist in spite of (an accident or ordeal)
         - he has survived several assassination attempts
 
3.      Remain alive after the death of (a particular person)
         - he was survived by his wife and six children
         - there were no surviving relatives
 
4.      Manage to keep going in difficult circumstances
         - she had to work day and night and survive on two hours sleep
 
Surviving the Audition is not about just squeaking by, or escaping in one piece. Surviving the Audition means that when ten actors compete for a role and nine of them are metaphorically left bleeding in the dust, you want to be the one left standing. You want to be the organism best adapted to the environment. That’s Survival. It could be compared to the cage fight to the death in the movie Thunderdome while everyone chants “Two men enter- One man leaves… Two men enter- One man leaves”; only in this case, when you step into the audition room, which is like stepping into the Octagon if you know the reference, you have ten competitors and yet you are completely alone. Think about it like this: 10 men enter, one man leaves. Be the one who Survives. Survival Training is about accumulating skills and knowledge, it’s about staying cool under pressure, knowing what tools you have at your disposal in this particular hostile environment, and knowing how and when to use them to your advantage. The most important aspect is the knowledge, the information, yet if the knowledge is not applied and the techniques are not practiced until they become second nature they are virtually useless to the actor who tries to call them up once he is in deep water.  Standing on the mark in the Audition is not the time to be searching for a technique. That’s why almost all Chameleon Audition Survival Training occurs on a mark with a camera and lights aimed at the actor, in a studio that is an exact replica of an Audition room. When it comes to Survival Training, you have to practice and practice and practice, then go back into the environment and practice some more. Eventually you won’t have to think about craft and technique, they will just become a part of you, and you will be prepared to Survive.
 
The number one synonym for Survive is Endure. Survival implies longevity; it’s about winning the war, not about winning one battle. Nevertheless, it could be argued that the most effective way to increase the chances that you will ultimately win the war, is to win battles as often and as decisively as is possible. Chameleon Audition Survival Training will not only arm you with the information you need to make strong, smart, appropriate choices for each audition, it will not only drill you until your camera technique has become second nature, it will also prepare you for what to do when things go wrong, fall apart, or things simply do not go the way you expected them to go. Nerves and panic in the audition room are normal, but the actor must learn to control them, to hide them, to use them to his advantage. Also, the actor must know when the time has come to let go, to let the plan fly out the window and just wing it, which is about improv-ing within the structure, not about creating something new… Use what you’ve prepared and bend it to work with what’s actually going on, and you will suddenly find yourself truly acting…the kind of acting where your feet aren’t touching the ground and you don’t remember the last 3 minutes of your life as you leave the audition room… that’s usually when we do our best acting if we have prepared truthfully, so don’t hang on…let go. Trust your preparation, trust your work, and trust yourself. Give yourself completely to the moment, let yourself fly and play. Plan, Prepare, Practice, then Play. You have to know when to work, when to charm, and when to play.  Once the camera is rolling, the only thing that is important is the play. The rest should be behind us and deep inside us by then. 
 
Survival Training of any sort teaches an individual how to endure, how to be the one left standing at the end of the day in a particular environment, and the audition room can be one of the most barren, empty, cold, hostile feeling environments that any actor will ever find himself in. It is in the actor’s best interests to arm himself to the teeth with knowledge and with skills, and to practice ad infinitum the techniques that will protect him in his time of need.  Again, standing on the mark in the audition room is not the time to be looking for an appropriate technique; you will find yourself eaten by sharks and out the door before you know what hit you. The goal of the Audition is to book the job, and Chameleon Audition Survival Training will teach you how to nail the Audition and hit it out of the park. That’s the part we can control as actors, the ‘nailing the Audition’ part, and the rest is out of our hands.  The bottom line is this: If you can survive the Audition, if you can keep your wits about you, if you can control your own body and breath, your speech, your nerves and your panic when you are under that microscope, if you have the acting and the technical skills to tell your story well and clearly under these circumstances, if you can use nothing but the script in your hand and your own unrelenting will to sell that scene in the Audition room, if you can nail your work and thrive in that barren environment under that intense scrutiny and overwhelming pressure, then you will Survive. Chameleon Audition Survival Training can teach you how to nail your auditions and own the room in ways you never thought possible. C.A.S.T. will arm you, protect you, and teach you how to think like a professional actor should think. C.A.S.T. will teach you how to work like a pro, how to be a top predator. C.A.S.T. will give you the Training you need to Survive.
 

Training:
 
Training - Train•ing/ˈtrāniNG/
Noun:
1. The action of teaching a person or animal a particular skill or type of behavior.
2. The action of undertaking a course of preparation for a specific event.
1. The process or routine of one who trains regularly.
5. The process of bringing a person, etc., to an agreed standard of proficiency, etc., by practice and instruction
2. The state of being trained.
 
Training is a learning process that involves the acquisition of knowledge, sharpening of skills, concepts, rules, and the changing of attitudes and behaviours to enhance the performance of the individual. Training not simply education, training is activity leading to skilled behavior. Without training, there can be no skilled behaviour.
 
Audition Survival Training prepares you for any and all possibilities, clarifies which aspects of the casting and auditioning processes are within the actors’ control and which are beyond, and it teaches us how to make strong, appropriate choices and then to execute them with precision. Audition Survival Training demystifies the audition, casting, and on set acting processes, and arms the actor with a profound understanding of exactly where they fit into the big picture. Anyone can tell you what to do in the room, Audition Survival Training will teach you how to do it by being specific about how you can best present yourself and your work. C.A.S.T. ensures that the actor will understand the technical requirements of acting for the camera so that he will be able to deliver his best work when the cameras are rolling, and he will be able to reach his full potential in his on set acting, and in his career. 


HomebeginningsBiz Experiencec.a.s.t. is:get c.a.s.t.biz job listVideosContact
Why call it C.A.S.T.
The Meaning of the Words Chameleon, Audition, Survival, and Training
Making the Scene Audition Friendly
C.A.S.T. : Where Classical Theatre Training Meets Film and Television