The Scene: May 5th, 2022
In today's email: College Auditions, Tony Awards, and Theatre Fails... oh my!
Also in today’s email:
Hot Topics: International Thespian Festival makes registration changes and more.
(Double) Teacher Feature: Scott Atkinson (he/him) & Wendy Vesper (she/her)
The Broadway Beat: Spring Awakening Documentary, SIX available for amateur licensing, Broadway ends vaccination requirements, and more.
Shows You Should Know: Social Issue Plays.
Around the Globe: A guide to directing shows in various languages, Death of a Salesman Revival, and more.
5 Things to Teach Your Students About College Auditions
by Audrey Armacost (She/Her, Fmr. Recruitment Coordinator, University of Oklahoma)
Pre-screens, callbacks, and Unifieds: oh my! Over the years, college and conservatory auditions have adopted new, stressful steps that make those two minutes in front of the adjudicators make your students feel like their entire future depends on it. In my three years as a Recruitment Coordinator for the University of Oklahoma School of Drama, I watched over 1,500 auditions and these are the things auditioners want to see:
Take a deep breath.
Spoiler alert: the people on the other side of the table really want to see you succeed! In our art, we are always striving for perfection, but at the end of the day, we are human and make mistakes. Auditioning is a really hard skill that this program will train you in, so no auditioner expects perfection. And if they do expect perfection, do you really want to work with these people for the next 2-4+ years if you are afraid to fail?
Audition Tip: Once you feel comfortable with your pieces, rehearse walking in, greeting your auditioners, introducing your pieces, and stepping into the first piece while taking deep, full breaths. This is the part of the audition where you get to be 100% yourself so take advantage of it. Your nerves are probably focused on the start of your first piece, but if you can get your mind and body relaxed in the space before you start, it will allow you to be present and focused on the acting.
Perform pieces that you care about.
What makes an audition memorable? When the performer is connected to the material. The most memorable audition I ever watched was a student who performed 45 seconds of the Bee Gee’s “Stayin' Alive” at a general audition, full disco choreography included. It was memorable not because it was gimmicky, but because you could tell the student was actually having fun!
Don’t know where to start in choosing a monologue? Read plays that interest you and get you excited about making theatre. Use material that fits your age, race/ethnicity, and any other demographics that are specified in the show. Selecting pieces that do not fit you tell the auditioner that you either did not do your homework or do not care about following the playwright’s intent (neither give a positive impression for their academic institution).
Audition Tip: If you aren’t super familiar with plays, here are some places to start looking for monologues:
Pulitzer-winning plays (they won for a reason!)
New Play Exchange has a great search tool if you’re looking for a specific genre/theme/demographic
Wear something that makes you feel like the best version of yourself.
Anyone who has stepped foot on stage knows how much of a difference a costume makes to your performance. Sometimes, it’s that one detail that brings the character to you. In your audition, wear what will allow you to do your best work. For example, don’t wear a dress if you’re showcasing your physical comedy. Don’t wear a three-piece suit if you feel more comfortable in jeans. The auditioners won’t remember what you wear, but they’ll definitely remember if it hinders your performance.
Audition Tip: You might not know what kind of space you’re auditioning in. It could be a carpeted classroom, a large proscenium stage, or a small hotel meeting room and the auditioners could be 3 feet away or 30 feet away. Wear something that will allow you to do your best work in any setting while still showcasing your personality! (And if you’re stressed about the environment, it never hurts to ask the organizer where you’ll be auditioning.)
Ask questions and do your research.
My biggest advice to auditionees is to find the program that is the best fit for them. Learn about the institution, walk around campus, talk to the students and professors, look at the curriculum, see a show, visit the city. Is this a place you want to spend 2-4+ years? Are these the people you want to work with and begin your professional career with? Is this where you want to live? I know people who transferred out of Carnegie Mellon, NYU, and all other “top programs” because it wasn’t the correct fit for them. Fact: you will get more out of an acting class at a junior college than a private liberal arts conservatory if you actually enjoy being at that institution.
Audition Tip: If you are seriously considering an institution but want to learn more, ask to sit in on classes, shadow a student, or get a tour. Learning the student experience is important since you will be in that position soon!
The road does not stop after your two minutes are up. This is just the beginning! By following up, not only will the program get to know you better, but you’ll get to know the program. Even if this is not the institution you attend, you could still build a relationship with the people you meet in the process — I still keep in touch with people I met in college auditions! You’ll be surprised at how small the industry is and no matter the program you attend, you’ll be in the same place as everyone else when you’re finished.
Big decisions are coming, but remember that you are in control! One of my professors always reminded us that secondary education is “education by choice,” and that choice is yours. The auditioners are there because they love their institution (I hope) and they want you to love it too. Have fun, enjoy the process, and break a leg!
Have a Big Idea idea? Submit it here!
International Thespian Festival 2022 is opening registration for the first time to any theatre-loving student or teacher regardless of Thespian status. Register for this year’s festival!
What time is it? Summertime! Explore options for theatre summer camps open in 2022 here.
We were going to write a graduation gift guide for theatre students, but this Quora thread took care of that for us.
It’s teacher appreciation week, so let’s celebrate teachers everywhere! Each week, The Scene spotlights one (or two) outstanding educators and shares their best advice to fellow teachers.
Scott Atkinson (he/him) & Wendy Vesper (she/her)
DC Everest Area School District (Weston, WI)
The number of years teaching: Scott (14 years), Wendy (28 years)
Scott: “Collaborate, delegate, communicate, and find your partner-in-crime who balances you out. As someone who has more Type-A characteristics than not, it was easy for me (especially in my earlier directing days) to think that in order for something to get done right, I had to do it myself. While I still feel that notion on occasion, it's much easier for me now to "let go" and trust that we have an extremely capable team. Meet with your production staff on a regular basis, if for no other reason than just to say, "Thanks for being a part of all this. What can we do for each other to make things go more smoothly?" I couldn't imagine going through these adventures that we call musicals without an incredible co-director and a fantastic production team who makes everything come together.”
Wendy: “Never stop learning, and don’t be afraid to face your fears. I was afraid of teaching acting, mostly because I hadn’t had any formal training. I realized my fear became our program’s greatest weakness, so I decided to get educated. While I didn’t have time to go back to school, I found a theatre education consultant group to work with our program and me. This group taught me how to direct effectively while teaching the students acting skills. By observing the students learning, I was also learning. I also try to attend seminars and workshops to learn as much as I can. It’s amazing what the theatre world is willing to share. I have also joined a director’s Facebook page, where I can learn, empathize, sympathize and cheer on colleagues. It’s been a great place to learn new techniques, bounce ideas off others, and problem solve.”
Do you have advice to share with fellow theatre educators? Submit your Teacher Feature here!
The Broadway smash SIX is to be available to license to amateur schools!
Broadway ceases vaccination requirements for audiences, but masks still remain in place.
POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying To Keep Him Alive a new political farce opens on Broadway heightening a long overdue socio-political message of female empowerment. For tickets, click here.
Encores! Into The Woods will mark Rob Berman’s final production as Music Director after 14 years. Take a sneak peek inside the rehearsal room!
Theatre, or Theatron in Greek, translates to “a place of seeing.” Explore and strengthen your casts and audiences’ deep, worldly views with these 5 plays about relevant social issues:
Your all-inclusive guide on how to direct shows in various languages.
Death of a Salesman to run in London’s West End and transfer to a Broadway Revival, starring Wendell Pierce, Sharon D Clarke, André De Shields, and Khris Davis.
Theatre’s Around The World: The Palace Theater gets a historic makeover in the heart of New York City!
No thoughts…. just this theatre fail compilation! 🤣