Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Auditions - the other side of the desk

So this weekend I get to go back a little more into my confort zone - being the one watching auditions instead of the one auditioning. Auditions for Hamlet are Sunday and Monday evenings, with callbacks on Tuesday.

For the uninitiated, the callback is the Round 2 of the audition. When a director (me) looks at someone in an audition, they're looking at more than just whether or not someone can walk and talk at the same time without falling over (although that's very important!). They're also looking at how that actor fits with the rest of the cast and the mental image of the finished stage picture in the director's head. I refer to this as the "movie in my mind," a phrase I stole from a Canuck director I worked with a couple years ago.

So we'll have hopefully 30 or so people over two nights show up for the first round of auditions. They'll be vying for as many as 16 roles. Two roles in the show are pre-cast, two small roles that will be performed by actors that I'm very familiar with and enjoy working with. One of them is the Player King, which my buddy Chris (who directed Shrew) will play, and the other is the Player Queen, played by my wife Suzy. I've directed Suzy before and she's a great actress to work with. And she takes direction well from me on stage, if not in our home life :).

After I look at hopefully dozens of talented people, the process of winnowing down to who I can use begins. Then it's all about who looks good next to whom. If I cast a guy who's my size as Hamlet, then my Laertes has to be at least as big, or else Hamlet killing him in the end of the play doesn't look believable. My Claudius and Gertrude have to be somewhat close in age, so the sexual tension there is believable. I would prefer that Gertrude have a different hair color than Ophelia, so they don't look too much like mother and daughter.

None of those things have anything to do with acting ability, but all are considerations when casting a show. So I'm looking for a wide range of ages, sizes and descriptions, all of whom are fantastic actors, and all of whom are willing to give me their lives and all their spare time for a couple of months.

For no pay. Oh yeah, that's the other thing, there's no money involved for any of us. We're all working for free, something I'll rarely do, since I count on my design work to fund my Vegas vacations, but will do when the project matters enough to me. And this one does. So click the banner on the side of the page and gimme $25 to pay for Ophelia's bustier!

That's a quick insight into the mind of this director as I get ready for these auditions. Hope some of you can come see the show once we get rocking!

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