Climbing Arthur’s Seat: Small miracles from the casting desk

Have you ever had the feeling that the much-sought-after solution to your problems is staring you directly in the face, but you just can’t quite see it? Yeah. It’s what I like to call “being extremely thick”. Especially when that solution is a person who is literally staring at your face while you talk.

I wasn’t going to talk about casting again but really, the problem of finding a Daniel has caused me to have so many minor panic attacks that it is impossible not to.

Having posted our open call we were completely overwhelmed and under-prepared for the response that we received. In the space of five days we received more than 45 applications. In our search to find a way of narrowing them down I was forced to at least partially choke back down my own sarcasm concerning the issue of looks; it was one of the few means by which we had to cut people down. Having said that, there were those who made it easier for us.

And so, a few suggestions when applying to open calls:

1.    Read the specifications: we asked for early 20s or a similar playing age. Love, 35 is not even close.
2.    Remember which way round these things work – we had a couple of application letters which, instead of expressing their enthusiasm for the job, contained an interrogation of our plans and methods worthy of scene in Homeland.
3.    Fit your application to the brief. That speedo shot of you beach-side may be tres Mr Bond. But it’s not so much failed novelist.
4.    Don’t be arrogant. The last time I checked, just walking up to a girl and handing her your number on the assumption she’ll call never worked in a bar. It certainly won’t work professionally. The cover letter space is there for a reason.
5.    Finally, when you get the audition, please look at least a little bit like the headshot. No, seriously.

Our day started chirpily enough, with me and Alex setting up shop in an empty conference room in Borough. Five hours and several lollipops later, it ended with Alex climbing into and hiding in an industrial fridge. I thought I’d quite enjoy being sat behind the desk instead of trembling in front of it. Actually the experience was both deeply uncomfortable and also ridiculously eye-opening. It was really quite disturbing to realise just how easy it is for an actor to put a “panel” off them. And quite surprising to realise just how desperate you become for someone to knock your socks off. Recalls followed and although we’d found someone very good, that most vile, disgusting and most X-Factor-like of feelings was saying no: the gut instinct.

And then the heavens parted.

Or so he’d have you think. Actually, whilst in rehearsal for a project I’m currently doing with Old Vic New Voices, I was once more whining about my predicament to a fellow company member when out spilled the words, “Could I put myself forward?” One audition later I was sold and Francesca has a future husband lined up.

HALLELUJAH! All hail the theatre gods as they sit upon their thrones of crushed dreams and over-inflated egos. We have FINALLY found a Dan. Not only that, but in the same person we have also gained an excellent lighting designer/theatre techie/set builder/photographer. After 45 applicants, 10 hours of auditions and several lollipops, it’s with what can only be described quite frankly as tears of joy that I welcome Monsieur Jacques Parker to our bonkers band of misfits. Now, about that play…

Image: Jacques Parker

Written by Chi-San Howard