I’ll tell you right up front: auditions scare me. I’m a nervous wreck for days. It takes every ounce of courage I can muster to put myself out there for scrutiny and judgement. If I’m auditioning for a role I really really want, I’m an even bigger mess. I do ok once I have a role. I get butterflies before I go onstage, but it’s no big deal. It’s auditions that kill me. Does this sound familiar to you?
With auditions for our spring one-act showcase and for the leading roles in our summer play just two weeks away, I thought this week I’d tell you a little bit about how auditions generally are handled at Freeport Players…a “what to expect” kind of thing. I hope this will help ease the nerves and encourage you to give us a try.
The first thing you’ll do when you arrive at the auditions is check in with our very friendly audition manager, Sally. She’ll give you a form to fill out. It asks you for your contact information, theater experience, and any conflicts you have during the rehearsal periods. Nothing you write there will be used against you. We’re a community theater; we like to take chances on people who don’t have a lot of training and experience. If you have a couple of conflicts in the early stages of rehearsal we can usually work around that. What matters most is that you be thorough, accurate, and honest. (Of course, if you don’t fill out the contact information, your chances of getting a call with an offer a role go down dramatically.)
TIP: Bring your theater resume with you to save time filling out the paperwork.
NOTE: On January 31 we are auditioning two shows at once, so you’ll be asked if you are auditioning for the showcase or I Hate Hamlet or both.
After you complete the paperwork, the specifics of what happens can vary depending on how many people are auditioning and what the directors want to do. There are some common practices, however.
We often start by having the actors meet with just the director, no other actors. There might be a “reader” in the room to read other roles when you’re cold reading. We don’t usually have everyone auditioning in the same room at the same time.
You’ll probably be asked to “cold read” from “sides”. This means we’ll give you a copy of a couple of pages of the script and ask you to read one of the roles. Sometimes the director will bring in another actor to read with you, sometimes you’ll work with a reader. It’s OK to ask for a couple of minutes to read through the excerpt to get a sense of how you want to play it. Certainly if the director offers, you should take advantage of the chance.
Check the audition notice. If it asks you to prepare a monologue, please do so. You’ll be asked to deliver that monologue when you first meet the director.
After you cold read, the director might ask you to wait in the waiting area, prepare to cold read another excerpt, or read with another actor. Or the director might tell you are done. (None of these says anything about whether you are still in the running for a role.)
Sometimes our directors ask actors to do a little improv. They’ll set a scene for you, give you a minute to think about it, and ask you to play the scene however you think it should be played. Our directors understand that most actors, at least in community theater, don’t have much experience with improvising scenes. It’s not meant to torture you. Dive in and do the best you can.
For the I HATE HAMLET auditions on January 31, the director, Dan Burson, wants to work with the actors in a more freeform way so he can really get to know them. There will be cold reads and possibly a little improv work. There will probably be several actors in the room at the same time right from the beginning. He might even do a little character exploration with the actors, talking about what’s going on in a scene from each character’s perspective.
For the ONE-ACT SHOWCASE auditions on January 31 and February 1 we have two directors and multiple plays to cast. I won’t lie to you… it’ll probably be a little chaotic. If we have a lot of people at the auditions, we won’t have time to have every actor read scenes from multiple plays. But these directors are smart. They’ll be able to tell from how you read one role whether you’d do well in another role you’re interested in.
Here’s the most important thing to remember in your audition, no matter what happens: LISTEN. If the director asks you to try something a different way, do the best you can to give them what they ask for. It’s a test. The director wants to know how you react to being directed. As you are reading with other actors, listen to what they say and how they say it and try to react to what they are doing when you say your lines.
After the auditions, the directors will deliberate. They may call/e-mail you and invite you for a call-back audition a day or two later. This happens when the directors need to see more from actors before they can make a decision. A call-back doesn’t guarantee a role, and not getting a call-back doesn’t necessarily mean you have not been cast.
We’re committed to notifying all auditioners about whether they have been cast by the end of the audition week. Expect either an e-mail or a phone call.
Are you still a nervous wreck just thinking about auditioning? My advice is to go to the auditions anyway. Audition often. It gets easier with practice. Really it does. I’ve never encountered anyone mean at an audition. Our directors, at least, really want you to do well, and they understand how hard it is to put yourself out there.
I hope to see you all at auditions soon!
For more advice about auditioning, read our interview with director Barbara Buck at http://www.fcponline.org/auditioning_advice.htm. She talks about what directors are looking for during each part of the audition.
For ONE-ACT SHOWCASE audition information, visit http://www.fcponline.org/2010_AUD_oneacts.htm. For I HATE HAMLET audition information, visit http://www.fcponline.org/2010_AUD_hamlet.htm.