It occurred to me in coaching someone this week on a particularly physical audition that sometimes actors, for good reason, aren't aware of their movement in an audition situation. There are a million different circumstances in which a scene requires some sort of movement, and it's the actor's job to figure out how to take what's on the page and make it work for them in the confines of an audition room. As a casting director, the first thing I'd say to anyone with questions about movement is --

What is the camera operator seeing?

Put yourself on their side of things, and think of an actor moving around a lot. What's the safest way to capture their audition without losing them out of frame? Go wide. And wide doesn't give us much of you. Even a very good performance can disappear if we have to be so wide that the frame is capturing your whole body.

Very little movement, on the other hand, with a very strong, contained performance...and that camera wants to be close and tight on your face. Now, I don't mean to suggest that every read should be pared down to zero movement. The last thing you want to do is strip the scene of what makes it work - and in the case of the coaching scene, it was all about a younger girl making an older guy go into oxygen debt on the dance floor. Not an easy thing to do in an audition - dance with no music, and still make the dialogue clear and distinct. But the point is, you have to remain true to the scene and cheat movement so that we get both the scene and your eyes in greater proportion to the movement. The suggestion of whatever movement is needed is more often than not, completely adequate.

In the bigger picture, I think this ties into an interesting point about stage directions in general, that I suggest you take more as something to consider, than as a rule:

Stage Directions are OPTIONAL.

You have to know that the vast majority of actors are going to do exactly what the stage directions have that character doing. Right on down to a smile, a laugh (even if it feels out of place), or sitting and standing. What a lot of actors don't realize is that scripts are usually written to be visual, to be entertaining, or to read a certain way. You are never going to really accurately give the feeling of a walk and talk scene, for example, standing or sitting stationary in a room, right? Easiest scene to shoot, hardest to read in a room because you don't have the ease of moving. But it's more than that. It's really more about the fact that most people don't read a walk and talk scene in a room with their main point of focus as something other than their scene partner. They face the reader, acting class-style, giving their full attention. But how many walk and talk scenes do you see where both people are facing each other the entire time? None.

Tv is full of walk and talk scenes, and film has a lot of different variations on the theme. These scenes work in a room when the movement is taken completely out, and substituted with the same feeling - two people side-by-side, connecting with their eyes only at certain points for emphasis. It's a small example of how you might tailor movement to give the right feel to a scene, but it serves to illustrate how everything falls into place if a scene works. More often than not, that means unless you're working with a good coach, or a friend you trust, you're wearing that director hat until that scene takes shape. Make the scene work first, and let the stage directions and movement serve that, not the other way round.

Oh, and listen to your body. When it is telling 4% of your brain that you are uncomfortable just standing there reading a scene, that's 4% away from the scene. You can sense it, and we can see it.