Today I am looking for a 19 year old, pretty girl who trades on her sexuality while hiding a dark secret…
We are holding auditions for the Menagerie production of Jane Upton’s play Swimming and need an actor to play Lucy.
The show is heading to Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer, but first we need one more actor.
We already have Grace Watts http://www.gracewatts.co.uk/
And Jack Bence http://www.tvrage.com/person/id-183034/Jack+Bence
Casting is of course a tricky business so we work with a casting agent. This time we go with Irene East. She is straight out of central casting herself. She answers the phone like she still is in the 1950’s with a crisp clear pronunciation of her name and number. She is lovely and very organised. http://www.loveandmadness.org/about_irene.htm
Her strength is graduates. She goes to all the drama school graduation ceremonies and takes detailed notes on the potential of every student – of course what is great is that she has notes going back 30 years or more so she has some great comments about actors that have gone on to be superstars…
Actually she should write a blog!.. I wonder what she would say???
…a young actress.. Ms Judy Dench appeared alongside a boy called Derek Jacobi – she was clear and crisp but oh dear he will never make it… ????
We are auditioning at our production partners SOHO theatre
We are seeing five girls for the part of Lucy. There is a need for the actor to have an attractive look as the character trades on this, but within the palette of the character there are layers to be to mined and the actor we are looking for must have the tools to mine!
My style in auditions is to be friendly but with an edge.
I like to have the casting agent and producer in the room with a chair set away from our desk. The first five minutes is chat …what are you up to what have you been doing? etc.
Then I quiz the actor about The Play and The Character… with …so what did you think of the play ?
Always.. its great or I loved it. BUT occasionally an actor will criticise a script which I think is risky but can have impact if the insights are thoughtful and considered. We are a new writing theatre company after all, so every script is a work in progress. Right down to the first performance and sometimes beyond we are editing and refining the script. The actors who inhabit the characters become strong advocates for their alter-egos and will often suggest cuts or rewrites on behalf of their characters. However it would be rare to have an actor offer re-writes in auditions.. not happened yet!
Having had the chat we now have fifteen to twenty minutes to work with the script. Sometimes I have the actor do some prepared work from their repertoire or from the play. In the UK you will mostly work in audition from the script that you are looking to get cast .
In the States this is very different, certainly from my experience at Centre Stage in New York (Artistic Director 1995-97).
At an audition in The States you would expect actors to perform a couple of pre-prepared monologues which are in their locker. It is traditional to do this and I had a lot of upset actors when I was working in New York. My auditions are more chatty on work on script. Theirs – are more … let me show you my Hamlet…
A friend of mine the Director Karen Kohlhaas runs a very successful business teaching actors how to audition including which pieces to work on and how to get the most out of them. From what I understand she makes a good living teaching these workshops as well s directing
The danger in auditions is that the actor you choose does a good audition piece but then they never grow into the part. I think of it like someone having practiced for an interview – done their research and worked out all the stock answers (tell us about your weaknesses.. well I work too hard etc.”). But when they come to the actual job lack the growth potential and flexibility.
So for me the selection of actor is based on:
Part gut feeling or instinct (this happens almost immediately the actor walks in the door). Do I like them do they have an edge /presence, inner confidence aura??
Part experience…what roles have they done before?
Part will I like this person or get on with them (not always so important I have worked with great actors I didn’t really like, but like anything in life it is nicer to work with nice people).
But mostly it is can they tune into the character and take direction?
So when I get them to read a scene it is always really important to get them to do it again with a new objective or approach. Even if they nail it first time. I want to see if they can retain the character but play with a new dynamic.
You have to give the right piece of direction of course. Clear, with an objective that alters from the previous reading. Being wooly in an audition is a crime for a director and may result in a poor choice of actor.
Also it is important that the actor is interested in you.
One of the actors in audition is doing four auditions today. She may well have a choice to make. It will be firstly the play, then the company, the money and conditions but the director plays a big part. Be unclear in audition and you mess up the chance of them wanting to work with you!
Indeed I have been in some auditions where I have felt like the auditionee – being quizzed by the actor… how much do you the director really know about this play…??
So we have five. Four are strong. One stands out.
What makes a good audition?… connection to the material and to the people in the room…
We wait to see if she will accept our offer to be in the play… did I gave her good direction and a strong desire to be in our production…we will see?
Hopefully this girl in soho will be a good call…