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Who Died and Made ME a Director?

November 19, 2013

I’ve really loved taking Directing class this semester. We read Anne Bogart’s A Director Prepares, have intellectually stimulating debates about theatre and comment on each other’s directing styles (I am not sure who I’d be, but my friend Tom is definitely a Baz Lurhmann).

For our class final, we each must direct a ten minute play with a few actors, limited technical capabilities and what directing knowledge we might have absorbed in the past few months. So this past weekend, we held auditions.

I think I learned more in those five hours than I have from hundreds of past auditions. Being on the other side of the table taught me a lot, including the following:

  • If I never heard another monologue from A Boy’s Life, Dogface or written by Neil LaBute again, I could be happy.
  • Please know how to write a resume and slate your monologue. I didn’t think it was that hard. I started giving bonus points to the auditioners who knew what they were doing. And don’t get up in our faces during your monologue. It’s scary.
  • If we ask you to read your monologue like you are homeless, cold, probably on drugs and talking to your lover while sticking your tongue and can you show us how far you can jump – we don’t hate you. We are actually giving you a chance. Possibly it’s a chance to salvage your audition or maybe it’s to save ourselves the trouble of holding callbacks so we can just hand you the role right there. Be willing to jump for us. 
  • I’m not trying to be rude when I’m eating a donut during your monologue. I’m hungry. I’ve been in this room all day. There have been no breaks – just one actor after another. I promise I am listening to you do your monologue. I just need to eat this before I pass out.
  • There are a number of reasons that go into why you didn’t get cast: maybe I don’t think you would be good to work with or maybe I can’t work with you because your schedule is one big conflict. You don’t look right for the role or you don’t look right next to the other actors. You just have the wrong style of acting for this kind of show. If you didn’t even audition, I am really not going to cast you. And in my case, I then had to fight it out with the other directors for who got which actor. And I fought really hard but I couldn’t fight for every actor who had a great audition.
  • Even though I have my pre-conceived notions from reading and re-reading my script, I have to be flexible. Actors that I thought would be great for the role didn’t audition. My top choice pairing was cast by other directors and I had to shift my pair-ups around to find other actors that would work well together. The actors I eventually cast I hadn’t even considered putting together but I trust them enough to make their casting work.

Thank you to all the actors who jumped as far as they could for me in their auditions. I swear it had a purpose! I’ve seen how far my actors are willing to jump for me. Now, let’s see how far they’ll jump with me into the rehearsals for my own one act play!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 19, 2013 9:47 am

    Congrats on getting through your first time with casting as a director! The good news is that casting is usually the hardest part, and now the next step is rehearsal time to make magic happen! I can’t wait to hear about it! 😀

  2. November 21, 2013 12:22 pm

    Great post! I love and agree with your bullet points. I’ve gotten to sit behind the audition table a couple of times this year and found a lot of similar things. I get extremely uncomfortable when the monologue is “delivered to me.” I saw a girl do a monologue on how much she hates men. I didn’t mind her choice of material, but it was SO weird to have her say most of it right to me. I saw another guy delivered an angry monologue to the table, and literally flipped everyone off at the end…It was part of the monologue, but still. Don’t flip off the audition table.

    Also, I’m very happy for you that you discovered the whole “don’t be offended for not getting cast” thing before you even graduated college. This is something that took me a lot longer. As my current acting teacher told me, “Sometimes you just look too much like the casting director’s ex. You have no control over that.”

    Best of luck with the rest of the show!

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