Recently, You’ve Cott Mail‘s email-list-serve-arts-news-compendium-thing was about Auditions, and the topic struck a chord; all of the senior Acting and Theatre Arts majors here at BU will be heading to New York City at the beginning of Spring Break for a group audition for a theatre full of producers, casting agents, etc. The prospect is slightly terrifying, but since I have made a decision to not pursue theatre directly out of college, a fair amount of the pressure has been taken off my shoulders. However, I’ve been there before, and I’ll be there again, and it is still terrifying: me, up there alone, the opening number from A Chorus Line blasting in my head as I stumble through a monologue, convincing someone I know how to act.
However, the whole “one minute monologue” thing followed by a three minute call back is not the only model for auditions. One of the YCM articles was about two Boston (Hey Boston!) based theatre companies, Company One and Whistler in the Dark, who are changing the audition game. Their callback process is multi-layered and nuanced, allowing for exploration and collaboration instead of simply seeing if an actor fits a type. One of Company One’s recent shows had very specific requirements for casting, especially in terms of the physical abilities of the cast in terms of stage combat, so they had a number of callbacks with combat choreographers on hand to help the actors. Whistler in the Dark, on the other hand, focuses on more text heavy and heady shows, so their callback process is long as well, but with the expectation that the actors will get a chance to go deeper into their characters during the callbacks. The director might call an actor for a few hours instead of just a few minutes, and ask a group of actors to warm up together and do some independent scene work. This is beneficial for everybody involved; the actors get to practice their craft and know that their presence is valuable in the process, and the directors get to more intimately know if an actor is someone they would actually want to work with!
The other article that caught my eye was about a start-up company who is using an audition process to hire new employees. When I first read the article, I was struck by how non-theatre their audition process was! An employer spending a third of their time hiring? That doesn’t sound like most directors I know. I was confused until it dawned on me that they were utilizing a similar audition philosophy that Company One and Whistler in the Dark are using. It is an interesting exchange of ideas that I hope will open up new dialogues about efficiency and investment in talent.