Auditioning: Why Wasn’t I Cast?

Auditioning:  Why Wasn’t I Cast?

Auditions.  We’ve all been there.   Trying to channel your nervous energy into a productive adrenaline.   Hoping to put your best foot forward.   Wanting to make a great first impression.    Anxiously waiting until your number is called.   Finally, taking the stage for a minute or two, and giving it your best shot.   Maybe you get another chance to read.  Maybe even a callback.  And then waiting … and waiting … and hoping and praying.   Hopefully, you got the part, but more often than not, you didn’t.   So, what went wrong?  What, if anything, can you learn from this experience?

Read More

The Impenetrable Wall of Theatre

  • Mia Stubbings

It's sometimes really easy for me to view the theatre industry as an impenetrable fortress. A really intimidating, steel-walled, towering fortress. I've heard it's great on the inside; people make things and create productions and explore their passion for live performances and stagecraft. But on the outside, it can be a pretty cold and lonely place. It's like all your resources are on the inside, but you're stuck on the outside, trying to peer in.

Unfortunately, that is how I sometimes feel. No matter that I love theatre with every ounce of my being, or that it's the one thing that makes me truly happy- it's still an industry that is notoriously tricky to get into. I know this because I've been trying to climb that steel-walled fortress for three years now, but my ladder just isn't quite tall enough. It can be a depressing thought, and the reason many people give up and try something else, but I don't feel like giving up is an option. I will get inside, and I will make theatre, but not knowing when is what makes it difficult.

I have had some fantastic experiences since leaving school and having the freedom to explore my interest in theatre. I've worked as Front of House at a rural theatre, marketing the new shows and creating events to help spread the word about productions touring to our little venue. I've worked with a theatre company who I have adored since I was a little girl, and lived the dream by working on their productions including 'Wind in the Willows', 'Macbeth', 'Much Ado About Nothing' and 'The Legend of King Arthur'. I've shadowed a brilliant mixture of directors, on productions ranging from the Jacobean tragedy 'The Duchess of Malfi', to a devised piece with classical music for children called 'Hubbub'. I've loved all of it. But so far, the experiences I have had are just glimpses and snatches of what I want to do all day, everyday. I'm plunged into a world I love for the briefest of moments, and then pulled right back out. 

Pursuing a career in theatre is tiring and difficult and frustrating, but those brief moments are what keep me going. When I'm in a rehearsal room, that is when I am truly happy. When I am surrounded by a team of people who share your passion and your vision, that is when I know that my efforts haven't been in vain. I'm getting there. Just very slowly.

I think it's difficult for a number of reasons, but I'm trying to change my mindset and view these difficulties as strengths rather than weaknesses. Living in a rural village has meant that I have had to actively look, and find, and sometimes even create, my own opportunities. But although I find my geography my biggest barrier, it can also be my biggest strength. I have a passion to make theatre accessible to everyone, no matter where they come from, and I think this comes from living in an area that sees very little in the way of live theatre. I love touring companies, because they travel to many different places in the country, and bring productions to people who may never have had the chance to see them. I visit London a lot, but I find it hard to connect with the theatre there, because all I can think is that people living in villages like mine, probably won't get to see these shows. And so this thing, living in a village, the thing that I have always viewed as a weakness and a disadvantage, has become my strength. It's something that I can use to my advantage as I carry on trying to climb the Impenetrable Wall of Theatre. 

For me, I only realised that I wanted to pursue a career in theatre when I started on the wrong path. I took a path somewhere else, and realised that I needed to go back and start again. So I did, but it's taken a long time for me to figure out where my place is in the theatre industry. I still don't fully know, but I've got an idea. This has meant that I've been able to explore a vast array of different roles and have a lot of different experiences, from directing to prop making, to film making and marketing. I see all of these experiences as equally valuable, and I've started to view life as one big experience. I want to collect as many experiences as possible, whatever they are, because they will end up giving me plenty of stories to tell. And that is important to me. 

I have recently realised that it is children's theatre that I really want to create. I like to see 'Grown-Up Theatre', but it doesn't often get me excited or passionate. Stick me in a rehearsal room for a children's production, however, and my brain goes wild and my imagination starts to whizz about in a frenzy. I know this can only mean good things. I know what I am passionate about, and that's a good thing to be able to recognise. I am passionate about inclusive, accessible theatre. I am passionate about children's theatre, and I want to learn more about how story-telling is possible through the use of puppets. If that's not a good place to start, then I don't know where is.

But that's the thing. You get excited when you finally figure out what it is that you want to spend the rest of your life doing, but you don't have a clue how to get there. And that is infinitely infuriating for me. There is no definitive path or method or way to get into that fortress. You have to make a way in for yourself, and you have to keep at it. Opportunities can be sparse, and it's up to me to facilitate them for myself when there aren't any around. It's all up to me, and that is both reassuring and terrifying. But I'll get into that fortress, one way or another, whether that be with a ladder or a disguise or a month digging a tunnel under the foundations; there's a way in. I've just got to find it. 

That’s Why They Call It “Casting”

That’s Why They Call It “Casting”

As Casting Chair of my local community theater, I think a lot about the process of casting our shows.  While the goal is always to find the ideal fit between auditioners and available roles, the reality is that we often have to compromise.   Unlike Broadway, we usually don’t have the luxury of picking people who perfectly look the part, fit the age range, and have the exact vocal range suggested by the script or score.  So, we make do with what we have.   In a sense, casting is like fishing.   We cast our line into the water by posting a carefully crafted audition notice.   First, we get some “nibbles”; expressions of interest on Facebook.   Then we see who we catch on audition day.  Many are not “keepers,” and often we have to throw them back (gently) into the pond.  But if we keep an open mind, we’ll often be pleasantly surprised by the talent we land.

Read More

My Five Tips for Community Theatre Auditions

My Five Tips for Community Theatre Auditions

A number of years ago, I decided to try my hand at directing.  I had been involved in community theater for several years as an actor and felt I wanted to experience the dramatic arts from another angle.  I expected there to be learning curve (which there was).  What I didn’t expect was how directing changed my perspective as an actor, especially when it came to auditioning.

Read More

Three Easy Theatre Games that Aren’t Zip, Zap, Zop

Three Easy Theatre Games that Aren’t Zip, Zap, Zop

Any theatre teacher can tell you the importance of theatre games. Games and ritual help create a safe and supportive environment and promote teamwork.  A great circle can mean the difference between a class that is fun and successful or one that falls flat. 

It can be easy to get caught in a rut of games and warm up activities.  We sometimes rely too heavily on the same games or activities. Perhaps we use activities that have worked well in the past without regard for how your newer students might respond to it. Sometimes it is just fun to mix it up or add to your class lineup of games and warm ups. 

Read More

An Artist's Job is to Tell the Truth

An Artist's Job is to Tell the Truth

The point of seeing theatre or a movie is to feel things. That's the most basic way to explain why we go see something....to feel things. So feel them.  Our society tends to shy away from expressing emotions outwardly, but participating in theatre, whether it's as a performer or as an audience member takes a certain level of vulnerability that is crucial to the experience.

I find the magic of art is to be moved in a way that you aren't ready for.  I'm someone who isn't made of stone, so yeah, if I'm watching Toy Story 3 I'll get a little weepy, but always feel the need to hide it, or force myself to keep the emotions inside...but isn't feeling things the point of art? So I've come up with challenge for myself and you, the reader when you participate in an artistic experience...don't censor. Whether you are a performer or audience member, just be real. Tell the truth.

Read More

I need an audition song!

I need an audition song!

We’ve all had that thought come in our head, right? An audition comes up and our standard “go-to” songs aren’t going to work, or they’re asking for something specific that you just don’t have. Time to freak out and cancel your audition...just kidding.

Hopefully this blog will help. As I’m thinking about auditioning for a few things and trying to figure out audition material, I thought I would jot down some of my thoughts.  These are things I’ve learned over the years through success and more importantly, failure in picking songs. Hope it helps!

A piece of general advice: make sure you’re prepared First step in that is to make sure you've practiced it with an accompanist/voice teacher etc. You need to know if it’s really difficult to play, if what you have in your mind as the intro actually matches what’s on the page, how to explain the tempo to the accompanist so you sound like you know what you’re talking about. If you don’t know, ask someone who accompanies auditions, and ask them if anything needs to be written on the page that would be helpful for a sight reader. Preparation is the key to doing well and not sweating the small details.

Read More

Let's Talk About "Act Singing" For A Second....

Let's Talk About "Act Singing" For A Second....

If you are a performer, know that whether they know it or not, this is what every audience member is thinking about you before they see your interpretation of your role. Answer this question in your performance honestly. Tell the truth. Show them what you have to offer in the role.

What do you have to say that no one else can say?

Read More

10 Must-Read Books for Theatre Actors

10 Must-Read Books for Theatre Actors

An actor’s work is never done. If you’re not onstage or in front of a camera, you might be found taking classes, doing research, or volunteering backstage. Sometimes, especially when actors run into dry spells between projects, it becomes essential to become your own teacher, and one great way to do this is by reading acting books. Regardless of your individual level of experience, it never hurts to explore what the greats have written on the subject. So, in no particular order, here are the ten acting books with a spot of honor on my bookshelf.

Read More