Conducting an audition is a production of its own. Get ready to plan, direct, and sometimes choreograph your auditions with the same ferocity as a full-blown performance – in a fraction of the time.
If you want a cast to perform the season you’ve so carefully chosen, you have to host auditions. This means you’ll have any number of eager actors in your space, waiting to be seen by your team – and you’re going to try to see as many as possible. You want to make sure your auditions are running smoothly – for the actors’ benefit, and your own.
Communication and Organization
This should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: make sure you clearly publicize when and where your auditions are going to take place. Send an email blast, post the information on social media, whatever it takes to make sure you don’t have people frantically calling, trying to find the location. Set everyone up for success.
Treat your audition planning with the same level of organization as you would a major event. Here are some tips from professional event planners that can easily be adapted for an audition setting. Organization is key. You’ll have actors throwing headshots and resumes at you all day, so before they arrive, make sure you have a filing system in place, to handle those papers. Better yet, create a digital file and request headshots/resumes prior to the audition so you can organize ahead of time, using TicketPeak. We offer an audition management feature, so you can keep track of exactly who’s stepping into your space and eventually in front of your artistic team. You can post audition times and roles. Auditioners register and receive a note detailing when and where they are to show up. You can have a one-page record, including headshot for each auditioner.
Be precise and thoughtful in what you ask actors to prepare. If you’re casting a musical, don’t ask to see two monologues. If you’re working on a straight play, you probably don’t need to see any songs. Ask for exactly what you need to make a decision. Stay within the time period of your show. Contrasting pieces are always good, because you can see a wider range in a short amount of time.
Let’s say you’re doing My Fair Lady. A good audition request would be 16 – 32 bars of a golden age musical and a contrasting contemporary monologue with a British accent. If you’re casting a Shakespeare play, ask to see one classic monologue with heightened text, and one contrasting modern piece, each about a minute long. Keep timing in mind – you want to give actors a long enough window to demonstrate their capabilities but keep the appointments short enough to maximize your day. We recommend 3 – 5 minutes with each actor. If you need to see more, you can always host callbacks in a few days.
Think about who you want in the room – definitely the director, music director, choreographer, and casting director, if you have one. Try not to overcrowd the room with people who aren’t imperative to choosing the cast, because this can be intimidating for the actors auditioning. Think about how scary it would be to walk into a room for the first time and be asked to perform for a group of 15 strangers, judging you. Hire monitors (or find a few generous volunteers) to run check-in and keep an eye on the holding room. You will also want someone to usher actors in and out of the audition room – this keeps things flowing in the right direction and protects the room from unexpected entrances in the middle of someone’s time. Auditions can be sensitive and hard to execute, but they’re a necessary evil in the world of theatre. Stay calm, organized, and aware of the people coming to perform for your team. After all, you need actors in order to do the plays you’ve meticulously chosen. Give them the best chance to impress you. Maintain a well-flowing audition room and you automatically make the experience more enjoyable for actors and for yourself, allowing everyone to focus on the art at hand.