|Photo: "Speakers Auditions for TEDx Beirut 2012" by TEDx Beirut/Nada Zanhour on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.
By Dale Albright
At the end of June, Theatre Bay Area held the latest South Bay Regional Auditions at City Lights Theater Company in San Jose. Much like the TBA General Auditions held in San Francisco, this was an opportunity for a large number of actors to do a short audition for a variety of theatre companies in one fell swoop. (If this sort of audition is interesting to you, please keep an eye on theatrebayarea.org/?page=GeneralAuditions for announcements of similar opportunities.)
Following these auditions, TBA surveyed audition participants, both actors and auditors. A few comments were repeated often enough that it seemed appropriate to share some thoughts on them with the greater community.
|TBA program director Dale Albright.
Audition time limit. A few actors mentioned that they wished they could have had more time. This is one of the most common comments in all of our group auditions. Equity actors who get three minutes at the General Auditions wish it was four (I have even heard five). Speaking as an actor, I completely understand the desire to have more time for your audition for a variety of reasons. However, more time will not help answer the needs of the casting directors for the purposes of this kind of audition.
The purpose of a general audition is a virtual handshake: to introduce yourself to the auditors in such a way that intrigues them to call you back for a more in-depth audition, should they have a role for which you are a potential match. A large portion of the information that they need to determine whether/when to call you back is provided simply by you showing up (as in, whether or not you fit a “type” that they are looking for, based on what they see in you and/or your resume). The rest of what they need to know (Do you sing? If they are casting for a large, outdoor venue, for example, can your voice fill the space? Did you have a polished and prepared introduction that shows that you are someone with whom they’d be willing to work?) is generally supplied to them in the first 30 seconds of your audition.
Knowing in advance which auditors will attend. Another common question was “Why can’t we know which casting directors or companies are there in advance?” Companies often don’t know if they will be able to attend the general or regional auditions (let alone who their reps will be and at what time they will be there) until the relatively last minute. Since sharing advance information that is inaccurate or incomplete doesn’t help anyone, we don’t do it. We do publish a list of who specifically was at the previous year's year’s general and regional auditions to give auditioners a sense of who may be there this year. This is not the kind of audition to select a monologue for any particular company or show. This is intended to help you cast your acting net widely. Do the pieces that showcase you the best and let the specific monologue tailoring happen in that company’s own general auditions, if they hold them.
Knowing immediately after the audition which auditors attended. We’re also asked, “Why can’t we know who was there and what times they were there immediately after the event?” We always make this list available as soon as possible after any regional or general audition. A few days after this year’s audition, we emailed all participants that the auditor list for the 2015 South Bay Regionals was available online, at theatrebayarea.org/?page=GeneralAuditions. Check it out!
Side note: Even if you didn’t attend the auditions, we think this list would be of use to anyone interested in working in the South Bay and Peninsula. Which companies are looking for people? Which directors are working with the companies that were in attendance? This is all helpful information.
Not in response to any particular question or comment, but I would like to say that the South Bay Regional Auditions serve a range of purposes for a lot of different companies. Some are hiring now. Some will be hiring in the future. Some are just looking to expand their talent pool in general. Not being able to attend this year’s auditions shouldn’t preclude you from taking advantage of other opportunities throughout the year. Not all of our South Bay or Peninsula companies are able to attend this one-day event, and those that do often will have other auditions. Certainly no one should put all of the casting eggs in this (or any) general or regional audition. Stay informed of and rigorously pursue current auditions throughout the year—one great place for audition listings is TBA’s Job & Talent Bank (theatrebayarea.org/networking/).
Notes for actors from the auditors. We also asked the auditors in attendance: “If you could give just one piece of feedback to all of the actors who participated, what would it be?” The most popular replies were:
Enter confidently and with purpose
Take a moment between pieces
Time your material so you don’t go over your allotted time
Make clear distinctions between the characters you play if doing two monologues
We’d love to hear your additional comments about this or other regional auditions. Feel free to comment below, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Dale Albright is program director for Theatre Bay Area, and a Bay Area actor and director.