Auditions are so painful. Why?
Look: it’s hard to put yourself in front of strangers and ask them to judge you. We do our best to be mindful of inherent difficulties, and we’ve made changes over the years to open the process to everyone and to mitigate the heartbreak. For example, we no longer post cast lists on the wall (formerly known as the wailing wall) outside of the theatre—just on this website, so that whatever happens, it can be private.
We never heard about auditions. Where is that information?
I am so sorry. However, there is another show coming up soon. Basic audition information is posted on this site for every mainstage show this season. Students also hear announcements every day during third period, and we try to get our material out that way as well.
What information are you talking about, exactly?
The dates and times of the auditions throughout the year (although these dates are subject to change); a basic summary of the show; the rehearsal schedule for the shows.
What about more detailed information about the available roles and the audition process?
Usually at least two weeks before the auditions the director puts out an audition packet, which includes descriptions of roles and audition pieces. Students can print this out and then rehearse their initial audition. Additionally, we try to have copies of each mainstage play for perusal in the office behind the Upstairs Theatre.
Generally, what is the audition process?
This depends on the director, but for the first round of auditions students read a speech from the show. It doesn’t have to be memorized (although certainly that helps). In the case of the musical, students sing a song that showcases their voice. It can be from the musical or just a song they love. Students have five minutes to present their piece. After the completion of the initial round, we post a callback list on the website. Students can be called back for one or more roles reading opposite their fellow potential castmates, or in the case of the musical, trying out major songs to see who might fit each role. Remember that in the case of large shows, students might be cast without being called back. There can be several days of callbacks, and then we post a cast list on the website.
What can we do if our son or daughter is not cast?
This is a very upsetting thing that happens to virtually everyone. Though this does not often ease the sting of it, we do try to keep perspective: any student can be involved with any show by virtue of stage crew, another show will audition at most six weeks from that day, and every single audition is a learning experience. Faculty members are always available to give feedback on auditions after the fact.
What kind of commitment are we talking about here?
Generally our shows rehearse for somewhere around six weeks. The rehearsal/performance calendar is on the website as well. We rehearse from 4-6:30 most afternoons, and from 10-4 on Saturdays and holidays. Two weeks before the show, we start what we call pretech week and rehearse from 4-8. One week before the show, it is our tech week and we rehearse from 4-10.
That is a lot of time.
Yes, yes it is. We want our shows to be as close to a professional experience/product as possible, and that takes time. However, keep in mind that the size of the commitment depends on the size of the role. If a student is cast in a lead, certainly he/she would be expected to attend almost every rehearsal. If a student is in the ensemble, the beginning of the process would be much more sporadic, a couple of times a week.
How are students expected to survive?
Well, on one hand, they are fed. We rely on parent assistance to ensure that, however. If you are interested in helping us with tech week dinners, please email the director and let us know. For every night we are here until ten, we have a meal together, cast and crew.
How do we deal with conflicts?
First, we can acknowledge that everyone has conflicts. As long as directors know about these conflicts and make an informed decision about casting a conflicted person, everything is fine. Students are provided with a rehearsal schedule and are expected to turn in this schedule with conflicts specified and signed by a parent/guardian. Of course, kids get sick and things come up, but if students continue to add conflicts over the course of the rehearsal process, we will recast the part.
How much of this is negotiable?
The major issue that we come up against over and over is tech week. Tech week is the week before the show goes up when students are expected to be here for a substantial amount of time. We cannot negotiate student conflicts during tech week. Students who want to be involved with the show must commit to that week completely, and there cannot be any exceptions. If one person can miss because of an important event, then everyone should have that same opportunity and then it becomes impossible to finish the show.