how to run a festival audition

I wish it had been my idea, from whole cloth, but it wasn’t.  Might be even more valuable for that.

So, with thanks to Cleveland Public Theatre, here is what I now understand as an excellent method for running auditions for a festival of written-down plays, this one being called Springboard.

I haven’t the vaguest idea of how to run an audition for devised work, although CPT know all about that as well so if you’re interested, contact someone over there.  They’re run off their feet producing and directing and devising and supporting artists of all ilk and Cleveland in general, but they’ll also likely take a moment to have a conversation with you because that’s how they are.

When my play THE CONSEQUENCE OF IMPRESSION was in Springboard – it was called THE DOPPELGANGER at that time, and the festival was called Little Box, but we all know what is and isn’t in a name – I’d asked for a bit of help casting and was given a room and a time and a couple of hours, and in tandem with Claire Robinson May and Danielle Case (who was at the point going by a different name as well) ran a somewhat disorganized but ultimately useful audition.

This past weekend’s audition was, by contrast, streamlined to the point of elegance, yet with elbow room.

Ten actors were booked per hour and each was asked to bring five picture-resume combos.  The directors and playwrights of the five works in question – three full-length and two one-act – were split into two different theaters, ably assisted by two stage manager types.  Yes, CPT has two different theaters.  Five, actually, or maybe they’ve sprung up an additional seven or eight hundred since my last workshop there, back in February.  They do things like that, conjure performing spaces at the drop of a hat.

Half of the actors spent half of the hour with one director-group and the other with the other, and then switched – introduced themselves, everyone did but I mean the actors, and then the directors gave the actors at least one scene to read from at least one of the plays, and about four minutes to give the sides a squizz before getting onstage and auditioning.  If there was time and inclination, actors were sometimes given an adjustment or asked to read from another work, and in one case a group was given a simple song to sing and asked to do so, dancing and interacting with each other and an instrument or two.

And that was it, actors were shuttled efficiently in, seen, heard, and out, and Bob’s your uncle.  Not my uncle, I had an Uncle Bill and and Uncle Phil and Morris and Leo  and Great-uncle Al and uncles Al and Jerry, although I didn’t really know Uncle Jerry for reasons I was too young to understand.

Oops, digression.  For those who haven’t read this blog before, or at least not posts other than the Sunday writers’ prompts or Monday heroes’ quotations-in-context, you should know that I digress.  Sometimes egregiously.  But seldom for long

There was, at the audition, no two-minute slot with a stop-watch stage manager and red card at the ready, no interminable waiting – as I had done in my first local audition, in which I sang a few bars and was made to wait something like six hours to finally read for the director, who spent my whole two minute-scene flipping through, marking, and re-stacking a bunch of other people’s resumes.

Quiet, efficient, respectful, and fun.  What more should an audition be?

Other than successful, that is, but I have no doubt that 2012 Springboard will be bursting at the seams with a wealth of talent, directorial, actorial, and writerly.

©2012 all rights reserved


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