By Connery Morano
This past weekend marked yet another successful round of Theatre Bay Area’s General Auditions in San Francisco. One of the keystone events of our organization, it’s an essential tool for Bay Area actors and theatre companies alike. With nearly 100 auditors in attendance this year, actors had the unique opportunity to show off their favorite pieces in front of casting directors from all around the bay and beyond; auditors had the opportunity to see and take note of a wide sample of actors to call in for auditions throughout their seasons.
The TBA General Auditions weekend is the biggest event of its kind in Northern California, drawing even Los Angeles-based actors to attend. This year, the auditions drew auditors representing the nationally recognized California Shakespeare Theater and the prestigious American Conservatory Theater, as well as San Francisco Playhouse, Aurora Theatre and many other well-respected companies. They were joined too by casting directors and independent directors.
The first two days, Jan. 30 and 31, consisted of the auditions of qualified Theatre Bay Area members, selected by lottery; on Feb. 1, the auditors saw members of Actors’ Equity Association. Throughout the process, actors participating in our Advanced Training Leading Artists to Success (ATLAS) program began their training by receiving invaluable, detailed feedback from all the auditors present at their auditions.
On Actors’ Equity members’ day, I arrived in the morning, excited to see what these professional actors had prepared. Auditors began arriving, chatting and snacking. After two long days of watching actors give it all they had, the atmosphere was buzzing. TBA staff worked with my fellow volunteers to keep all the moving parts of this chaotic and exciting day running smoothly.
As the actors arrived and checked in—some running through their monologues and songs one last time—the volunteers’ work had already begun. We arranged over 80 head shots and resumes per person into packets for the auditors in the theatre; every 15 minutes, in between sets of auditions, we would fan out into the theatre, distributing packets of photos to the auditors. TBA staffers James Nelson and Laura Ng led actors up and down the flights of stairs from the check-in to the green room dozens of times throughout the morning.
I was able to watch several rounds of the auditions, and the actors were formidable. One actress’s portrait of a drunken woman begging a man to marry her had me nearly in tears. I was struck with envy every time an auditioner perfectly struck a note with our pianist, and happy to laugh along with the auditors whenever someone collectively tickled us.
On one of our breaks, I had a chance to talk to auditor Jon Rosen from Landmark Musicals, who told me how pleased he’d been with the audition process. He told me he’d found plenty of people to contact for Landmark’s upcoming auditions for Boy from Oz and that he’d been impressed by the level of talent he’d seen all weekend. After all I’d just seen, I can’t say I was surprised to hear it!
After a long morning, I was exhausted, and as a new group of volunteers, excited to take on the afternoon, began arriving, I made my exit. I’m glad to have gotten the opportunity to see the General Auditions this year. I’d been too intimidated to apply to audition myself, but after seeing the upbeat, positive, atmosphere and feeling the excitement from everyone around me, I’ve already started to think about what monologue I might want to bring in next year.
Connery Morano is an intern at Theatre Bay Area, focusing on arts administration; he's also a Theatre Arts major at SF State with his degree expected May 2016.