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Welcome to Backstage: The TBA Blog! This is the place for Theatre Bay Area announcements, info on upcoming events, grant deadlines, ticket giveaways, shout-outs and special profiles of featured members. Visit early and often!

 

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Backstage at the TBA General Auditions

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, February 2, 2016

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.

 

Tags:  Acting  actor  ATLAS Program  Auditions  auditor  casting  casting director  TBA general auditions  training 

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Program Director's Note: Last-Minute Audition Tips

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Updated: Friday, January 22, 2016

By Dale Albright

 

The 2016 Theatre Bay Area General Auditions are coming up soon! Below is a list of last-minute tips for those of you attending the auditions—and lots of them are applicable for any audition. Of course, there are no black-and-white answers to any casting question; ask 10 different people the same question and you will get 10 different answers. This is the general consensus of my interaction with casting directors, and is not meant to be an “instruction”—these are truly “tips.”


 TBA program director Dale Albright.


1. Plan on using less than your allotted time.

For example, non-Equity actors are allotted two minutes at the Generals—why not do two 45-second pieces? Equity actors (who get three minutes at the Generals)—why not do two one-minute pieces? By using less than the allotted time, you succeed in several important things:

You ensure that you will avoid that dreaded call of “Time!” This is especially useful if you are doing a comic piece—who can time for the laughter you might get? And who knows what else might happen that might put you over the allotted time? Why take the chance? (By the way, if they do call “time” on you, it is not the end of the world. Be gracious and always close with a “thank you.”)

You leave the auditors wanting more. If you plant the seed that you are an interesting actor and “tease” them with your piece(s), then they might be more inclined to call you back.

You show that you have an understanding of the general audition casting process. This solidifies your standing as a professional actor who knows how much you need to give the casting director in order for them to make a callback decision. (Casting directors can often make their decisions on this in the first 10 seconds of an audition!) It also shows that you understand that the General Auditions are not only grueling for the actors, but for the auditors, who have three days of back-to-back auditions, which is surprisingly draining. 

2. Be prepared for the space you are going into.
Will you see the auditors, or will they be hidden in a dark house? (At the Generals, you will see the auditors—but do not let this lull you into a sense of intimacy that might lead to a loss of vocal projection. Marines’ Memorial is a large theatre.)

Where do you need to go when you get there? (At the Generals, the path to the backstage area leads up and down stairs. You will have time to do any last-minute makeup/hair adjustments when you arrive at the dressing rooms backstage.)

Will you have access to a chair on the stage if you need it? (At the Generals, you will.)

What is the traffic flow? (At the Generals, all actors enter and exit at stage left—the same side as the piano.)

3. Arrive in a timely manner, ready for your audition.
Please, please check out the traffic/transit/parking situation in advance. (For the Generals, the link for parking information is http://www.marineclub.com/location.php.)
• Arrive no later than 30 minutes before your scheduled time.
• Arrive warmed up.
• Arrive ready to give us your headshots/resumes: 100 for non-Equity, 60 for Equity. (While we’re on the subject, check out these thoughts from actor and career coach Velina Brown about headshots: “The Business of Show Biz: Help with Headshot Hype.”)
• Do not leave the waiting area once you check in—you will potentially affect all five to seven other people in your audition group if audition staff cannot find you.
• Bring anything you think you need: pencil, pen, business cards if you have them, snacks, comfortable shoes, breath mints and—most importantly—water!
• Don’t bring anything you don’t need; we will not have space to store personal items and they won’t be “guarded.”
• If you will be singing, be sure that your music is prepared so that it’s easy for the accompanist to use: no plastic sheets (to prevent glare), etc.
• If you are in the final group of the day (4:45 p.m.), it is vital that you arrive on time—the auditors could be going home if you check in late!

Here are some further thoughts from Velina Brown on day-of audition preparation and self-care: “The Business of Show Biz: The Highly Sensitive Actor.”

4. Have realistic expectations for the audition.
One of the most difficult messages to get through to actors is that the General Auditions are the equivalent of a casting handshake. The purpose of the Generals is to get a callback. Callbacks are not part of the TBA Generals, but casting directors interested in your work will save your headshot/resume and call you back at a later time.

If a company or casting director wants to call you back, when should you expect to hear back from them? At the Generals, you could hear from them anytime from immediately after the audition to years down the road—yes, literally, years. So if a month goes by and you haven’t heard anything, it does not mean you “blew it.” This is an investment.

And remember—the companies in attendance come with a variety of different casting scenarios. Some are casting for a particular season; some are just on the hunt for who’s in town for future needs. Many of the factors in their decisions are just plain out of your control. Do you fill a need for something on their list that they are looking for? Does your resume show something of interest to them? There’s no way to know, so that’s basically one thing you can cross off your worry list, if you have one. Come to the auditions, do your best and then go treat yourself to the treat of your choice (no judgment here on what that is!).

5. Let someone know if you aren’t going to make it to a scheduled audition.
Always. For the Generals, call (415) 430-1140, ext. 20 (never call the Marines’ Memorial) to notify TBA staff if you are not able to make your audition slot. This number will be checked during all three days of the auditions, so even if no one is in the office, your message will be received. Note: If the TBA staff doesn’t hear from you at all, your name will still appear on the schedule, all of the auditors will know that you are a no-show and you will be excluded from next year’s Generals.


6. Have fun.
Yes, there are a lot of things to think about and remember...whatever! Ultimately, have fun!

 

Dale Albright is program director for Theatre Bay Area, as well as an actor and freelance director. 

 

Tags:  Acting  actor  ActorTBA general auditions  Atlas  Auditions  auditor  TBA general auditions  volunteer 

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Featured Member: Justin Gillman

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Interview by Sal Mattos

Our next featured member is actor and ArtistRepSF company founder Justin Gillman. As an ATLAS alumnus, Titan Award winner and TBA Awards adjudicator, he’s been one of our most active members since he moved to the Bay Area in 2011. Many actors dream of making it to L.A. or NY to work, but it was landing in San Francisco that really got Gillman’s career started. 


TBA featured member Justin Gillman. Photo: Lisa Keating

 

Tell us a little about your background in theatre.

My first week of freshman year in high school, I was a loner and had nowhere to sit for lunch. I found this little room tucked away at the edge of campus with some friendly and lively people in it, and soon realized that I had inadvertently crashed a Drama Club meeting. Sign-ups were going around for auditions for the fall production, As You Like It. I signed up simply so I could blend into the crowd, eventually got cast as Silvius, and the rest is history!

I love all kinds of theatre, and I make it a goal to always try to switch it up whenever I can—new works, modern, classical, musical, experimental, etc. I have a lot of really great training from UC Santa Barbara and Columbia University, and one of the best things I’ve learned is to always strive to build theatrical muscle and to never settle for the expected or the ordinary. Though acting will always remain my first love, this sensibility has also led me to branch out into other theatrical arenas (writing, directing and producing).

You’re an ATLAS alumnus, as well as a Titan Award winner. Tell us what that experience was like, and how it’s affected your career. 

ATLAS was an incredible experience for me on many levels. It was beautiful to see so many artists participate in the program, and to be able to feed off of everyone’s passion and love for Bay Area theatre. The program also allowed me to focus on what was truly important to me as an actor. Prior to ATLAS, I felt like I was just jumping from show to show, without any sort of goal setting or plans for the future. ATLAS helped me to create my career road map; I refer to it every day now as a rubric for all my theatre-related decisions. For instance, I didn’t know how important it was for me to join Equity until I actually wrote it down. Now, I have a plan and I’m sticking to it! Also, I am so grateful to have received the Titan Award. Money is always tight, and to be able to pay for new headshots (thanks, Lisa Keating!), business cards, and a website will allow me to make the next leap in my career. And getting to have Liam Vincent (an accomplished and fabulous Bay Area actor) as my mentor has been such an enlightening experience.

How has your journey this last year held up to the career map you devised in ATLAS?

Acting can be a frustrating profession, and a lot of my own personal frustration comes from the fact that there is so much that is out of my hands (getting through the right doors, having the right look, getting that part you think you deserve). What I can sometimes forget is how much is in my hands! Some answers to my daily frustrations: My headshot is five years old and doesn’t even look like me any more. (Answer: Get a new one!) There’s never enough time in the day to feel accomplished. (Answer: Wake up earlier!) Why am I even submitting for this audition? It’s not like they’re going to seriously consider me. (Answer: You won’t know if you don’t try!) I know these seem like logical answers, but it can get very crowded in an actor’s head. Especially mine.

You’re a fairly recent transplant to the Bay Area. What was the transition like, and what advice might you give to those just moving here, looking for work?

I moved to the Bay Area from NY in 2011. And even though NY was a nightmare for me in many ways, I was still worried that the Bay Area would not provide me with as many opportunities. Boy, was I wrong. 

I think the most important part of my transition to the Bay Area was that, in NY, I had been labeled as a recent graduate student with a particular set of skills taught to me by my university; the Bay Area simply treated me as an actor. While labeling and typecasting still go on, there is such a plethora of opportunities that are truly within your grasp here. And if you’re not getting the parts you want, put on your own play and rent out space at the Exit and do it yourself! I did that this past winter with a friend of mine, with a small but well-received production of Rabbit Hole (in a role I would probably never have been cast in, but was crucial for me to attempt for my own growth)—that quickly transitioned into a full-fledged theatre company, ArtistsRepSF! That never would have happened for me as quickly in NY. Here in the Bay Area, I can go from my day job to a commercial audition to an industrial shoot to a musical theatre audition to rehearsal for a Restoration comedy, and I never feel like I’m a particular kind of actor. I’m simply an actor. The Bay Area is here to help you find out who you are as an artist. 

What’s something you really like about the theatre scene here in the Bay Area? 

Everyone is doing great and daring work here—the huge companies, the midsize companies and the small-but-fierce companies. It’s a pretty incredible town if you’re able to see The Pillowman, The Mystery of Irma Vep, and Company all in one summer season. Also, word-of-mouth is an explosively potent tool here, so if you see a show and like it, scream about it on social media. People will listen! I know I do!

What’s one of your favorite projects that you’ve worked on?

I just played Katurian in The Breadbox’s production of Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman this summer, and it was truly the highlight of my acting career thus far. McDonagh’s play is one of the most vital pieces of literature on the topic of the importance of art. The production itself was hilarious, brutal, violent and pretty scary. And the process was guided by the firm, intuitive and graceful hand of Ariel Craft, one of the best directors working in the Bay Area today. It was a perfect storm of awesomeness!

What’s been your most memorable theatre moment thus far: good, bad, proud achievement or total embarrassment?

My family and my boyfriend’s family (who had not yet met) decided to come to the same performance of The Pillowman, and I had the pleasure of listening to them meet for the first time as they were taking their seats, while I was blindfolded onstage for 15 minutes during the pre-show. #OnlyInTheatre

Any upcoming projects to share with TBA’s members?

My next show, Aphra Behn’s The Rover, runs Oct. 15-Nov. 22 at Shotgun Players! I also highly recommend going to The Breadbox’s season-closer, Medea (directed by boyfriend extraordinaire Oren Stevens), playing Oct. 2-17 at Exit Stage Left.

A big shout-out to my theatre company, ArtistsRepSF, whose next show, Peer Gynt, runs Jan. 22-Feb. 6, 2016 at Exit Stage Left!

You can also see me later this season in Born Yesterday at Center Rep (Jan. 29-Feb. 27) and Will Eno’s Middletown at Custom Made Theatre Co. (Mar. 24-Apr. 23).

After that, I’m taking a long nap.

Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community. 

 

Tags:  Acting  Actor  Adjudicator  ATLAS Program  Auditions  career  Featured Member  TBA Awards  Titan Award 

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Program Director's Note: South Bay Regional Auditions Recap

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, August 18, 2015

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 tba@theatrebayarea.org or dale@theatrebayarea.org.


Dale Albright is program director for Theatre Bay Area, and a Bay Area actor and director.


Tags:  Acting  Actor  Auditions  auditor  casting  casting director  Director  South Bay Regional Auditions  TBA general auditions 

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Resource Expo at TBA Annual Conference

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Updated: Monday, March 9, 2015

 

The TBA Annual Conference is right around the corner, and it's going to be great! United under the theme (and the increasingly clear imperative to) "Be the Change" are panels and roundtables on topics for every role in theatre—onstage or offstage—a Playwright's Cabaret of new short works, and now—a Resource Expo!

 


Photo: "Clock - Success" by Flazingo Photos (www.flazingo.com) on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.   



The Resource Expo is going to be a space packed with people and organizations who help theatre-makers boost their careers. Does this describe you? Sign up for a table in the Resource Expo!

Space is now available for anyone who provides career-related services to theatre artists, including:

• audition coaches 

• career advisors

• headshot photographers

• voice and movement teachers

• website designers

 

...as well as representatives of actor training programs, circus arts programs, graduate programs, internship programs, improv groups, and organizations offering playwright opportunities!

New! TBA has relocated our conference food depot inside the Resource Expo to ensure friendly mingling. Full and half resource tables are available here in our online store

 


Questions?

Contact conference contact Kimberley Cohan


Tags:  #tbacon15  Acting  Actor Training Guide  arts education  Auditions  casting director 

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Hot Stuff at TBA South Bay Regional Auditions

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Updated: Monday, August 11, 2014

By J


It was a sweltering afternoon at the TBA South Bay Regional Auditions in San Jose—both inside and outside the San Jose Stage Company, although for not quite the same reasons. While the temperature outside was breaking through all possible possibilities of human endurance, the pace inside the audition venue was also scorching. 

Group after group of eager actors came filing in at their appointed times to present 120 rehearsed seconds of theatrical performance for an eager, willing and welcoming group of artistic directors, casting directors, casting assistants, et al, from as many as 14 different theatre companies.
 


Photo: "Audition" by henry... on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license. 


It all ran like clockwork. Actors would come in and submit their headshots. The group in waiting would be taken outside for a quick orientation of audition protocol. The previous group's actors were filing out one by one from the stage, while the next group’s headshots were grouped for each auditor. After the last actor had performed his/her/their pieces, hands went up for the next lot of head shots. TBA marketing associate Kendra would come in and introduce the incoming group; one by one, like a well tuned program, the actors came in to perform and then left, making space for the next auditioner. And the process continued—for nine hours straight.

San Jose Stage Company has a big stage, a backstage-cum-green room and a beautiful, well-lit lobby. Three worlds coexisted; while performers showed their wares on this beautifully lit stage with audience on three sides, the actors waiting were seated/standing/moving in the green room, paying close attention to who was on stage (and their own heartbeats). The third world was the smiling and welcoming front desk in the lobby, manned by Susan and Dana who would greet you with a smile and a kind welcome. 

Actors performing songs would first huddle with the on-board accompanist Samuel, who then played in full support to the artist—keeping in sync with the voice, breath and emotion of the singing talent. 

Actors of all shapes, sizes, ages, vocal range and nervousness came forward to an audience that was supportive, friendly, kind and responsive: chuckles, giggles, laughs and finally, a nice, juicy "Thank you.' A special word goes out to the auditors who, even after numerous auditions, remained engaged and warm. 

Being in the last group, I did have the advantage of a particularly jubilant audience before our group began—yes, it had been a long day. 

Thank you TBA, thank you San Jose Stage Company, thank you auditors, and most of all thank you actors, for having the courage to come and be vulnerable once again, to wear our hearts on our sleeves, and offer ourselves for inspection, knowing that in these 120 seconds—before we hear the word, "time," before they shut the lights out—we could possibly live a couple of lifetimes. The show must go on…


J is a Bay Area-based actor fresh out of the University of Washington's MFA (Acting) program. J also holds an MBA, helped raise $115,143 for the University of Washington and is an activist for gender freedom. 

Tags:  Acting  Auditions 

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