The Long-Delated Audition Post (Part 1)
In 2023, The Knack Theatre is producing “The Jasmine Suite” by Michael Olsen. For transparency, education, and mostly entertainment, the director is keeping a diary of all the excitement, pain, and embarrassment that goes on behind the scenes. Join our mailing list to follow along, as well as find out what other exciting shows lie ahead.
As the first official rehearsal happens tonight, I realise I have yet to type out my thoughts regarding the audition process that occurred way back in February. Having avoided being on this side of an audition process before this moment, I learned a lot about auditions, the culture of Melbourne theatre, and the pain of saying no.
What Ever Happened To Apologies?
When we put the callout for auditions, I was unsure how much interest we would receive. Unfortunately, we cannot offer decent rates to our actors, and being a small show, even profit-sharing wasn’t going to get a four-figure sum for them. Still, we assembled a pack, sent it out across social media, and received far more interest than expected.
Not knowing better, we used a booking system for auditions; each person was given a fifteen-minute timeslot throughout the day, and we ended up filling close to forty slots. We also received half a dozen video auditions for people unable to make it. Not too bad for a cast of two in a small play, with one character being male.
Unfortunately, over half the people who had expressed interest AND booked a space to audition did not turn up. Of those people, only a few sent a message before or after the appointed time. Many simply disappeared.
Now there are many good reasons to cancel an audition. A better audition, a shift at your casual job, illness. But what reason is there not to send a text letting us know you were not coming? Were that many people hospitalised on February 25?
The next time I do auditions, it will NOT be using a booking system. What a stupid mistake that was.
But wow, when they turn up, do they turn up!
The quality of actors in Melbourne must be pretty impressive when those who turned up for our little play were as good as they were. Honestly, I felt sad for many of them who talked about struggling to get roles….I mean, how? You’re brilliant! If you are a struggling actor, don’t start thinking it is about your abilities because I had to say no to people I would kill to work with on other projects.
One Piece of Advice: It’s Theatre, Not Film
Now, I’ve blown smoke up the butt of every actor who auditioned for The Jasmine Suite. I do feel like I should point out one criticism I noted time and time again…
Theatre is not film. Being able to portray subtle facial expressions is so important to film actors, and I didn’t see a single person who couldn’t give a great facial performance on the day. Not one. However, I ran out of fingers counting the number of people who neglected to move, let alone make movement choices, during their audition. Feet nailed to the ground, hands in pockets, giving the performance of a lifetime but only from the neck up.
Each of my short-listed cast members made it on there partly because of the fact they made considered physical choices. Not the choices I would have made as a director, but choices that showed they knew how to interpret a text and act on that interpretation.
Speaking of Short Lists...
I hate myself. I was so determined on the day to avoid doing callbacks, but as the day went on, the quality of actors seemed to increase more and more. By four, I thought I had found my cast; by nine, I’d found six separate casts that could all work. I ended up apologetically calling a few people back the following weekend for…
Reminder: Mr Tulk gets busy on the weekend.
Getting to sit down with actors and just get to know their personalities, see the chemistry between people, and work out if we could get along as a group is something you don’t ordinarily have the privilege to do. But with a two-hander, it IS possible, and I’m so glad I gave in and did it. While I still have to admit that even the coffee made it impossible for me to choose between two actors, it certainly helped limit my options even further.
So Who Ended Up being Richard and Kathryn?
As has already been announced, the final cast for The Jasmine Suite is:
Kathryn played by Alexandra Taylor
Richard played by James Weir