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If the planning for your spring show is underway, you may be looking for outside-the-box strategies to make the audition process more exciting. Whether you’re hoping to try a different approach or find ways to shake things up, here are some ways to get the job done.
For many students, the audition process is stressful. One of the jobs of a director is to create an environment where all feel welcome. This way, students can perform at their best. Start by telling your students what to expect by walking them through the audition process from start to finish.
When students have gathered for the big event, consider a few fun exercises to try as a group. Encourage positive visualization of each student’s performance, along with leading breathing exercises or some improv to get everyone loose and confident. Facial and body warm-ups are a can’t-miss, too!
For many, the reality of virtual productions and auditions have come to pass due to the pandemic. If you’re tasked with this, ensure you and your students are prepared for smooth-sailing. (And yes, these tips can help both you and those auditioning!)
Make it clear what platform you’ll be using for your virtual auditions, whether that’s Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams or something different. Before the day, get familiar with the application. Next, have a quiet space to run auditions and confirm the sound and video work on your computer. Practice your ‘script’ for running auditions and become confident with it. When in doubt, do a ‘dress rehearsal’ of sorts with a friend to work out any kinks!
If you want to give students a taste of the so-called ‘real world,’ make the audition process mirror one you might see on Broadway. This way, you’re giving kids the experience to prepare them for life outside their comfort zones.
Whether you require kids to slate or bring resumes and headshots; invite audience members to observe auditions; or put on a neutral demeanor while watching performances, it’s a great way to shake the dust off your regular process.
Consider shaking up the casting in one of many ways. ‘Diversity’ has been a key word in the theatre realm for many years – and for good reason! Keep that in mind when choosing the show you want to put on by looking at the characters involved. Can they be played by anyone, or does a rigid description keep you from branching out?
Once the show is picked, encourage students outside the regular bubble to come audition, and don’t be afraid to take a little extra time to cultivate the cast you want. Forgo traditional casting for your show if you’ve got the students for it by ignoring gender, race or physical descriptions of your characters, letting everyone shine. Yes, it’s not the newest trick in the book in professional theatre, but it’s a sure-fire way to create a dynamic show everyone will be talking about.
Any manners in which you make your audition process a little outside the norm, the better. Why? Because this way, you’re preparing your students for life after your program.