I am not a social animal. In a crowd, I am not the one you will see introducing himself with enthusiasm to all of the strangers in the room. Making friends takes more time than that for me. There is, however, one time when I try to do a bit more "schmoozing"; I put in a bit more effort to get to know strangers right away when I am at an audition.
Truth be told, many of the auditions I go to these days are also attended by people I have worked with many times before. Ergo the odds of me auditioning with nothing but total strangers at these home theatres of mine are very slim. Yet my advice is still worth heeding. Even for myself when I know most of the people auditioning already.
I am not suggesting that you start asking everyone out for a cup of coffee while you await your turn to be called into read for the show. However, if you can make the rounds in a subtle manner and make small talk with those who do not seem too engaged in their own private preparations, I recommend doing so.
"Why", you ask me. "I am just as introverted and awkward as you seem to be, Unglebower."
The reason is simple. Unless you are trying out for a very particular kind of show the director is almost guaranteed to ask you to read with at least one other person. In most cases several people, sometimes multiple people at the same time. Stage chemistry with other cast members is vital to a show's overall quality. So if you have made yourself a bit more comfortable with the people auditioning before you actually read, that is probably going to show during your reading.
This will not assure you or the other person of a role, of course. However, if after some small talk about theatre or even the you find that the first layer of your social barrier has been lifted with a person, it will be that much easier to interact with them on stage. A lack of awkwardness on stage is imperative. Getting to know someone before you read with them, (if you have that chance), will strengthen both of your readings.
In some cases, it will not work. In most cases I dare say that your small talk will in fact make a useful connection between you and the stranger in question. And, once in a great while, you and the other person may hit it off quite well, in a short amount of time. In those rare but rewarding instances, not only are you all the most comfortable during your reading together, you increase your chance of having fun playing off of each other. Plus if neither of you get a role, you have made a potential new friend. (Gasp.)
Yes, dear blog readers. This actually has happened to me.
Now I am never going to be a mingler supreme. My semi-wall flower status is not going to change to any great degree at a party. But as an actor, I want the part. I also want to perform with people I can connect with. I dare say many actors feel much the same way as I do on such things. So take my advice; when you enter that audition ante-chamber filled with people who are scared to death, close in. (Gently). It could do both of you a world of good.