Putting a Face on Theatre
Welcome to the TheatreFace Monday blogs, where I get to talk about things onstage (or near stage, or you know, somewhat stage-related sometimes.) This week's article, to be honest, is not so much a “how to” as a “reminder to self of how I think this works," as I have my round of callback auditions for the CalArts season this week. Also, stay tuned for a special announcement at the very end!
[Note: Part 2 can be found here.]
So you've done it. You've managed to get past the first round of auditions, and you've got the callback!
...but now what?
You've already prepared, prepared, and prepared some more for your initial audition. But what do you do for a callback?
Well, hypothetical “you”, I'm glad you asked!
In my (limited) experience, at the callbacks (and often at the auditions), there is a check mark on whatever form you're filling out that states “I would accept a role other than the one I'm auditioning for.”
You should (almost) always check this box.
Everyone knows the saying,“there are no small roles, only small actors.” Now, this is actually one of those lies your high school drama teacher told you when you WERE a small actor to make you feel better. (Ha ha, get it? Get it? Because small kids are small actors—I'll stop.)
Fact is, there are plenty of tiny, tiny roles. But the thing is, these tiny roles are important and you should do them. If it's your first time working for a company, these roles get you in the door. If it's your school production, these roles get you seen and lets you work with your professors and mentors. If it's a full equity contract show, these roles still get you paid.
And just because you check that box, doesn't mean you won't still get cast for the exact dream role that drew you to the auditions anyway.
Now, if you truly 100% will not be happy if you're not cast in the one role you set out to get, don't check the box. No one likes working with a crabby actor who spends the whole production feeling jilted. But know that the director often is looking at big picture things, and you don't want to turn down an opportunity just because you let your own ego get in the way.
Prepare, prepare, prepare some more.
If this sounds familiar, it should. Just because you got a callback doesn't mean you get to slack off. You still got to do all your homework. Are the sides available beforehand? Oh my goodness, download them, borrow them from the library, walk uphill in the snow both ways if you have to, but go read them! If possible, reread the play—perhaps with an eye on the characters you're called back for. Still plan to get there early, stretch, drink water, relax, do your thing.
Mine the material.
I'm going off the assumption that the callback involves cold reads from sides. If it instead involves an ensemble activity, improvisation, or—my personal favorite callback—putting on a giant “house” costume prototype and run around “pretending to play football” while making exaggerated faces (oh the joys of commercial auditions...)—then just do your best, be as honest as possible, and have fun.
However, if you're doing cold reads, then your job is to dig into what you're given and unpack as much as possible. Got the sides 2 weeks in advanced? Read it, find your objective, figure out your circumstances, pick an active, doable action, look at your relationship with your scene partner.
Got a random scene shoved into your face about 30 seconds before you're expected to read it at callbacks? Do the same thing. The only difference is you're making split second decisions—which may not be a bad thing... as I'll explain next week.
Next week? Yes, this article is getting long in the word count. (And if a picture's worth a thousand words...yikes!) Tune in next Monday for the second half. Until then, may you have the problem of getting too many callbacks.
...What is this? More words after saying “we're stopping here because there's too many words?” What lies, lies!
Well, I had an announcement I wanted to share. Recently I was selected as a contributor for Theater Mania's new, to be launched site, Theater Mania University! I'm one of a select few college bloggers that will be writing for their site, which will be geared specifically towards collegiate actors. My articles will be published there every Friday. Not to worry though, I'll still be here every Monday, so TheatreFace still gets me first!
So if you can't get enough of me, come visit me on Friday at TheaterMania. And if you can't stand me...send people you don't like to visit me on Fridays at TheaterMania! The blogger for them that gets the most readers and hits gets invited to stay on board for longer term. And the longer I stick around there, the more I get to talk about TheatreFace to their readers, and introduce more college kids to this awesome hub and connection of theater artists.
Thanks and see you Friday (and Monday)!