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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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Program Director Note: Even More From the General Auditions

Posted By TBA Staff, Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, March 15, 2016

By Dale Albright


 TBA program director Dale Albright.

I never cease to be amazed at the collaborative nature of the Bay Area theatre community. Even at an event as stressful as the Theatre Bay Area General Auditions can be, auditors and actors alike often look at it not only as a chance to connect roles with talent, but as an opportunity to reconnect with friends and colleagues and, yes, even to pass along words of wisdom.

This year, as part of the survey we do annually for auditors attending the General Auditions, we asked: “If you could give one piece of feedback to all of the actors who auditioned this weekend, what would it be?” Below you will find a sampling of responses from casting professionals who observed the 2016 Theatre Bay Area General Auditions.

1. Don’t be afraid to own the room.

2. Enjoy yourself when on stage! Relax a little and let your creativity shine!

3. Ensure your resume is properly formatted. (For helpful resume tips, click here.)

4. If you’re going to do two pieces (and you probably should), make sure that they contrast enough to show your range.

5. Plan accordingly so that you can take your time before you start. Rushing robs us and you of the time to settle into your audition. Build some breathing space into your audition!

6. Your audition begins the moment you walk onto the stage (or into the room). Act like you are happy to be there. Don’t save your pleasant nature for the moment you say goodbye at the end.

7. Singers arguably have more to worry about at this kind of an audition. Be sure you are prepared to knock it out of the park if you plan on singing (visit a vocal coach, take advantage of the TBA Dress Rehearsal, etc.).

8. Print or write the names of your audition pieces on your resume. Each of the casting directors who attends the General Auditions collects a stack of over 300 headshots. When we dig through these headshots several months from now, looking for a specific actor for a specific show, seeing the names of your audition pieces helps us to distinguish you from the of dozens of actors whom we met in a whirlwind. If you performed a gorgeous Juliet monologue that made us feel wonderful about you, then the words, "Audition pieces: (1) Juliet from Romeo & Juliet; (2) Catherine from Proof by David Auburn," written legibly on your resume, could make all the difference in the world. Help us remember you.

9. Remember that we’re on your side—we want to be able to cast you just as much as you want us to cast you.

10. Don’t forget that your first 10-15 seconds are quite important.

11. If you perform your song second (last), it gives the accompanist a chance to review your music while you are doing your first monologue.

12. Don’t do Hermia from Midsummer. Over done.

13. Remember that many of us save your headshot for three years, so don’t give up hope if you don’t get a call this month!

 

 

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

 

Tags:  casting  casting director  program director's note  TBA general auditions 

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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: 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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Gender Parity Events at the 2015 TBA Conference

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Bay Area theatre community is leading the way on the important issue of gender parity, both onstage and off, thanks to proactive theatre-makers and awareness-raising groups like "Yeah, I Said Feminist," Counting Actors, and the TBA Gender Parity Advisory Committee.

The 2015 TBA Annual Conference is delighted to host a number of gender parity-related events for all theatre-makers who want to know more about this movement and how it's transforming Bay Area theatre.

  

 


Photo: "Bildung für Alle" by rosmary on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

 

 

Gender Parity Events at the 2015 TBA Conference

 

 

Who's Got Next? – Gender and the Season Planning Process

Time: 10:45 a.m.-11:45 p.m.
Type: Breakout session (roundtable)
Location: Bakery Room, Berkeley Rep School of Theatre

 

Moderator: Christine Young (Professor, University of San Francisco)
Confirmed panelists: Patrick Dooley, artistic director; Liz Lisle, managing director; Joanie McBrien, development director; Fontana Butterfield, actor


In this roundtable discussion, Shotgun Players' artistic leaders and company members will reflect on the process of planning their 2015 all-female playwrights season and will consider how their company values and season-planning methods have been transformed. 

 



Equal Opportunity Obstacles Overcome – Successful Strategies


Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Type: Breakout session (roundtable)
Location: Bakery Room, Berkeley Rep School of Theatre


Moderator: Rebecca Ennals (Artistic director, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival

This roundtable discussion will feature artistic leaders sharing their successful strategies for diversifying audiences, overcoming casting obstacles, and integrating artistic and social values in the season planning process. 



Negotiation for the Individual Artist


Time: 1:00-2:00 p.m.
Type: Lunchtime session (informal discussion)
Location: Bakery Room, Berkeley Rep School of Theatre

 

Moderators: 
Velina Brown (Actor, Theatre Bay Area columnist and career consultant, The Business of Show Biz)
Valerie Weak (Actor and creator of the Counting Actors Project


Bring your lunch and talk with fellow artists about negotiation, a crucial part of securing work. Whether it's financial compensation, scheduling, childcare or something else entirely, individual artists have the opportunity to negotiate as part of accepting any role, job, or gig. We'll share stories about successes and challenges, and offer peer support to those with upcoming negotiations.

 

While everyone is welcome to attend, we recognize that women may face unique challenges relating to confidence and negotiation which we hope to address as part of this session.


See you at the Annual Conference! Registration is open now!

Remember to tweet #TBACon15! 



 

Tags:  #tbacon15  advocacy  casting  Gender Parity 

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The General Auditions Are Over - Now What?

Posted By TBA Staff, Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, March 4, 2015

 

By Dale Albright and Beverly Butler

 


The Generals are over…now your work really begins!

Theatre Bay Area's General Auditions took place two weeks ago, and if you had the opportunity to be one of the 340 actors seen by the auditors, you've got some follow-up to do that just might increase your chances of getting a casting call!

  



Photo: "After work, par Franck Vervial" by Franck Vervial on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

 


·      Visit the Theatre Bay Area website to check the list of auditors that saw you and send them each a note, a "remember me" mailing or an email letting them know a little more about you (besides your obvious good manners). Perhaps you have been cast in a show since the Generals, or there has been some other update to your resume? Let them know.

·      While you have that auditors' list handy, make a note to retire the monologue they heard. Polish up a new one for the next time you get a call from that theatre.

·      Go to the latest issue of Theatre Bay Area magazine (print or digital version) with the Spring Season preview and check which theatres are doing which shows. All the spring and summer seasons are listed for your viewing pleasure. Undoubtedly, some of these shows will not yet be cast. You know what type you can play; see who is doing your perfect show and pitch yourself for the part.

·      Grab a piece of paper, think about the experience, and jot down what went well and what you want to change for the next audition. Did you arrive on time? Were you comfortable in what you wore? Were your headshots ready? Was your monologue too long? What were your nerves like, and what will you do differently next time?

·       Even if you weren't one of the lucky ones who got a slot at the Generals, you can scope out the auditor list and send a headshot and a note to the theatres doing shows you want to be cast in. It shows them you are doing your homework, which is always a good thing.

Two weeks and no calls or call backs? This is a marathon, not a sprint. Anywhere from two days to ten years is not uncommon for the General Audition magic wand to tap you on your magnificently talented shoulder.

Get to work!

 

 

Dale Albright is program director for Theatre Bay Area. 

 

Beverly Butler is vice president of Theatre Bay Area's Board of Directors. 


Tags:  Acting  auditor  casting  casting director  TBA general auditions  TBA Magazine 

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TBA Supporters Go "Behind the Curtain" at 2015 General Auditions

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, February 24, 2015

 

 

On Sunday, February 22, members of Theatre Bay Area's community of supporters were invited to join TBA staffers for a VIP reception and "Behind-the-Curtain" viewing of the 2015 General Auditions. Attendees included TBA Board Members, longtime donors, and prospective supporters just getting to know the Bay Area theatre community and Theatre Bay Area. 


 


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

 


During the reception, attendees were treated to conversations about the General Auditions experience. Leslie Martinson (associate artistic director, TheatreWorks), and Lesley Currier (managing director, Marin Shakespeare Company) presented the auditor's point of view, while Kendra Oberhauser (actor—and Theatre Bay Area staffer!) described the actor's perspective​. 
 
Martinson and Currier emphasized that, for auditors, the General Auditions is not necessarily a "best actor" competition. Rather, each theatre representative auditing the auditions is looking for actors suited for the specific productions they have coming up. 

They also affirmed the extraordinary value of the General Auditions; both Martinson and Currier have developed long-term artistic associations with artists that they first saw at the Generals. 

As an actor, Oberhauser discussed the unique opportunity—as well as the pressure—actors encounter at the Generals: to showcase everything they can do for the who's-who of the Bay Area theatre community...in two minutes. She noted several different approaches actors take in order to stand out, from selecting monologues by lesser-known playwrights to belting tried-and-true Broadway songs. 

Naturally, the reception began as a friendly gathering, but by the end, there was real excitement in the air. It was clear that this insider look at why the General Auditions exist and how they serve the theatre community had been inspiring for those in attendance—almost as inspiring as the actors showing their work on the audition stage.


Join us next year for General Auditions 2016!

 

 

 

Tags:  Acting  auditor  casting  casting director  donor  TBA general auditions 

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