Sunday, June 22, 2014

Let Your Personality Shine at Auditions

Encore! Managing Director, Mindy Barker, gives insight into the casting process.

By Mindy Barker
Managing Director
Encore! Tulsa
Casting a theatre production is like arranging a complex puzzle. You have 200 actors audition for a show with 30 roles. All 200 puzzle pieces- or actors- look fantastic on their own, but the completed puzzle- or cast- only uses 30 pieces. There are different ways that the pieces fit together, and the casting director has to figure out the best way to put them together so the final production looks perfect.

When casting The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, casting the Pevensie children presented a challenge for us. We had to find two boys and two girls who are in the correct age order, stair-step height, and could believably pass for siblings with as little alteration (hair color, makeup) to their physical appearance as possible. Out of the children who fit this description, we had to look for not only the right talent, but also for the right chemistry. These children needed to be comfortable with each other, play off of each other, bicker like real siblings, and love and protect each other when it mattered most. At the same time, the boy playing Edmund has moments of seeming alienated from his brother and sisters. Susan and Lucy have a very emotional scene when Aslan dies. To top it off, Peter and Edmund must have stage combat experience. Peter especially must be skilled with a sword for two epic fight scenes.

This is just a taste of the decision-making process that casting directors face. As you can see, some actors had to be eliminated from consideration based on attributes they could not change- age, gender, height, just to name a few.

At auditions, actors shouldn't focus on what they can't change. Instead, here are some tips to help you succeed at auditions:

1. Remember that your audition begins the moment you walk in the door, and to treat the audition like a job interview. Be kind and respectful to everyone you meet, because negative attitudes, comments, or behavior will find their way to the casting director. 

2. Let your personality shine. Yes, we want to see your talent and abilities. However, we are going to be working with YOU more than the character. When we assemble a cast, we are building a cast-- a FAMILY. Are you fun, easy-going, passionate, hard-working, punctual? We are looking for talented people who will arrive at rehearsal on time, memorize lines by the deadline, work well with others, be able to focus on the task at hand, stay patient and positive during long tech rehearsals, and remain calm if something goes awry during a performance.

3. Don't hold a grudge or share your negativity if you aren't cast. When we cast our production of Fame, we had several great teenagers audition, some of whom didn't quite fit into any particular role, but we knew they would be great in one of our upcoming shows. One such girl took out her frustration through an extremely hateful post on social media, not realizing how close she was to being cast. I completely understand the disappointment, but you need to keep your chin high. On the flip side, we had an actress audition for us a couple times without being cast, then land a leading role in her first play with us! We applauded her perseverance and positive attitude.

Do you see a common theme? We're looking for vibrant personalities with positive, upbeat attitudes! Of course, we're looking for specific skills, talents, and abilities, all of which take time, practice, and instruction. This is why we offer our audition workshop, as well as acting classes to help you hone your acting abilities.

Click here to visit the Education page and learn about our classes, camps, and workshops!

Want to audition for us? Click here for details.

Blog Post by Mindy Barker
Managing Director, Encore!
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