Tag Archive | "Actors"

Tags: , , , , , ,

AYT USA: Audition etiquette – last one there is a rotten egg!

Posted on 29 October 2012 by Sophie Schulman

I have now been living and auditioning in New York for two months and I have to say, I find the whole thing simultaneously wildly hilarious and horribly depressing. More than anything though, the New York audition circuit is simply bizarre.

Dozens of girls crawl out of bed at 5am or earlier, grab their pre-packed audition bags, and head to Midtown. Once they take the two or three trains needed to get to the audition studios from their “transitioning” neighborhoods 100 or so blocks north or south of central Manhattan, they wait outside in the bitter cold or blistering heat until the building opens and then go into the “holding room”. Yes, a “holding room”. As if you didn’t already feel like one in a herd of cattle.

They then put their names on the unofficial list and set up camp, unloading their makeup, curling irons, and simple chic dresses they cannot really afford. One of my favorite audition pastimes is watching a room full of schlumpy looking nobodies turn into a bevy of supermodels. It’s like the transformation from Beauty and the Beast, complete with fog courtesy of the thick cloud of hairspray and powder pervading the air.

Once the audition monitor arrives, everyone eagerly waits to hear whether the unofficial audition list will be honored. At this stage in the game, there may be up to a hundred names already on the list… and only seventy actors in the room? How can that be?

At every New York audition, you will find actors sleepily staggering up to the unofficial list and adding their name to the dozens already there… and then adding the names of their ten closest friends who aren’t actually in line yet.

Now, there are about a million and one reasons why these other performers haven’t yet gotten to the studio. The frantic text messages they sent all of their actor friends begging to be added to the list run the gamut from: “The F train is experiencing delays!” to  “I’m coming all the way from Philly!” and “There’s another open call I have to get to today. If you sign me up there, I’ll sign you up here! Then we can switch!”

We have all felt the pain of early morning auditions. But on the popular and extremely useful website, one reader who lives outside of the city points out that they can suck more for some than for others. Sometimes, the first train into the city on New Jersey Transit or Metro North may not leave until 5:00 am or later. So, it is important to note that these absent actors are not necessarily lazy bums.

On the other hand, I don’t think most actors, myself included, really consider the ramifications of adding their friends to the audition list, though that’s not to say there is no discussion surrounding the topic: the aforementioned “Bitching Post” on Audition Update shows that there is debate surging.

Every name that you add to the list that is not your own may mean one more actor who does not get seen that day. Five minutes can mean the difference between getting seen and getting a job, and not even getting to sing or read because you had to go pick up your charge, Billy, from school or get to a temp job before they reach your number on the list. And if you can’t get in the room, you simply aren’t going to get hired.

I don’t think it’s fair to advise readers to never sign up their friends or vice versa.  After all, this new, more ethical system will open up work if everyone buys into it. It would be like telling everyone they should just arrive at auditions when they actually start, rather then getting there at 6am. Wouldn’t that be nice? Then we could all sleep in! But it’s simply not going to happen and it’s not a crusade you can win on your own. However, as the genius folk-rap duo Flight of the Conchords would say, “You gotta think about it. Think, think about it.”  By helping out your friend, are you simultaneously ruining someone else’s day?

If you are an American reader of A Younger Theatre and would like to contribute to the AYT USA blog series, please contact blogs[at]

Sophie Schulman

Sophie Schulman is a proud recent graduate of the musical theatre program at American University in Washington, DC. While in school, she studied abroad at the British American Drama Academy and fell in love with the London theatre scene. She is interested in all genres of theatre, and enjoys looking at and writing about current arts events from an ethics perspective. She recently relocated to New York to work as an actress in the big city.

More Posts

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Wicked Stage: Confidence or arrogance?

Posted on 05 August 2012 by Sarah Green

“If you’re a director, your entire livelihood and your entire creativity is based on your self-confidence. Sometimes that’s dangerously close to arrogance.” – Trevor Nunn

This quote from the famous theatre director is apt for many working in the performing arts industry: you can quite easily replace “director” with “actor”. This was made abundantly clear in ITV’s Superstar programme less than two weeks ago with finalist Nathan James. Throughout the live shows judges such as Dawn French had registered their concern about his ego and ability to deal with criticism. This was then furthered by his VT on 23 July where he refused outright to wear a hat that costume offered him – this was amidst earlier reports that he reduced a staff member to tears over his “diva”-like behaviour. Andrew Lloyd Webber then criticised him for things he had written on Twitter and worried how he would cope in rehearsal with other star performers. He was booted out at the end of that evening’s show, causing people to take to Twitter defending him and calling it a fix. So was Nathan’s James’ behaviour acceptable? Or was it a misstep in the balancing of confidence and arrogance?

Actors traverse this line all the time – you need confidence in yourself and your abilities to put yourself forward for the endless auditions and equally for self-preservation from all the rejection you come up against. Confidence can go too far though, and it turns people off when it leads to arrogance. A case in point was the Joseph search in 2007: Seamus Cullen sang, “I have been promised a show of my own”  during the elimination song Close Every Door, which made many glad he had left. Incidentally, he was part of the Superstar search but kept it a lot more low key that time round.

If Superstar had been a normal casting process taking place behind closed doors, Lloyd Webber would have had every right to dismiss James and maybe blacklist him from future auditions if he really disliked his attitude. Although Lloyd Webber put the decision in the people’s hands, it does seem suspicious that the man he disliked went out that night. So did arrogance cost James the role?

Singer Rebecca Caine, the original Cosette in Les Misérables, disagreed with judging someone on anything but the voice, tweeting on 23 July 2012: “I don’t care what someone tweets or what their off-stage attitude is. If I’m forking out money I want to hear the best singer.” Whilst Caine makes an excellent point, I can’t help but think that she expresses an attitude not acceptable in this technologically advanced world. The fact is, we do care what people tweet (note: Twitter joke trial) and thanks to social media, celebrities are no longer unknown enigmas – we are able to judge someone on their off-stage attitude.

At the end of the day Superstar is a TV show, so everyone’s profiles are raised and people are judged on their personality as much as on their voice, throwing the confidence vs arrogance debate into the mix. Was Lloyd Webber right to correct James for his attitude on live TV? And is this a public lesson in the strong need for humility as a performer?

Image credit: ITV Superstar website.

Sarah Green

Sarah Green

Sarah is a musical theatre graduate now studying for her Masters in theatre practice with hopes of going onto a PHD. She has been writing for A Younger Theatre since September 2011 on all things musical theatre related.

More Posts

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Merry Meetings at Shakespeare’s Globe

Posted on 23 July 2012 by Becky Brewis

It’s an action-packed year for the good people at Shakespeare’s Globe. Their massive Globe to Globe project, which came to a close last month, earned them huge coverage and was a great success, bringing international theatre companies to the Bankside theatre to perform each of Shakespeare’s plays in a different language. Now a whole new programme of events, Merry Meetings, is underway. I asked Jamie Arden, Head of Operations and Events in the Globe’s ambitious Education department, what they’ve got planned – and what opportunities there are to get involved.

Merry Meetings is all about a celebration of meetings, whether it’s meeting the academia with the performance element, meetings between actors and audience, or the actors meeting the play and finding new insights.” Globe Education is one of the largest theatre education departments in the UK, and the events in the Merry Meetings programme are designed to support the experience of coming to see one of the shows in the theatre’s current season, The Play’s the Thing, including Henry V, Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It and Hamlet. The Globe is also welcoming back ex-artistic director and award-winning actor Mark Rylance, who will be taking the title role in Richard III, and there’s the chance to hear director Tim Carroll discuss rehearsing the play.

The season promises to provide some unique insights into Shakespeare’s plays. Each production is accompanied by a Setting the Scene lecture series, in which academics are joined by Globe actors: “What we try to do – and partly why Merry Meetings is such an apt title for us – we try to marry both the academic and the fact that we are a theatre. Essentially, what we are trying to do is make Shakespeare’s work come alive through theatrical performance, so we pair an academic – to give us insights – with our actors, who illustrate the lectures. It becomes a very accessible, very interactive kind of experience.”

If you are after something even more in-depth, study days are being held on Saturdays throughout the season. These tend to focus on a particular play and provide “an opportunity for students in particular to come along and immerse themselves, through practical exercises, through looking at the script in detail with some of our practitioners, and to really understand the essence of what these plays are saying.” Arden tells me that part of the problem with studying Shakespeare is that from a young age so many people are put off – including himself – by “being introduced to it in the classroom, with the embarrassment of reading these unusual words aloud on front of your classmates.” What Globe Education tries to do, he says, is “explore this heritage of ideas and how we can make that really live and make the plays come alive.”

So even when studying Shakespeare, the emphasis is always on acting and practical theatre. For instance, as part of Merry Meetings, a series called Talking Theatre gives people coming to see the shows the chance to meet the cast afterwards and ask questions about the whole process; about going from rehearsals to the actual stage and to hear from the director about the choices, ideas and concepts they are exploring. As part of the Perspectives programme, Jamie Parker will be discussing his journey from playing Prince Hal, in the Globe’s acclaimed 2010 productions of Henry IV Parts One and Two, to taking to the stage as King Henry V. Additionally, actors Peter Hamilton Dyer and Colin Hurley will share their experiences of rehearsing and performing in this season’s Twelfth Night.

Merry Meetings is really celebrating what’s different about the experience of coming to the Globe compared with the experience of going to another theatre, where the lights go down and you’ve got to be quiet and you focus on the light on stage. Here it’s that kind of shared light that means the actor and the audience are able to connect with each other.”

The Education team has just got back from Latitude Festival, where they took one of the plays in their Read Not Dead series into the Suffolk countryside, weaving a festival atmosphere through John Fletcher and Philip Massinger’s 17th Century play, Beggars Bush. The Read Not Dead series – one of Arden’s personal highlights – presents readings of rarely staged plays,  some of which were the original source plays that inspired Shakespeare: amongst others, you can catch John Ford’s Perkin Warbeck, and the original, anonymous, The Taming of A Shrew.

“Since the Globe was first founded by Sam Wanamaker,” Arden tells me, “it had sought to make itself a community space; a theatre that reflects the local community and where people feel welcome.” And from The Merry Wives of Windsor in Swahili to Merry Meetings‘ wide-ranging Shakespeare perspectives, that’s what this year has been all about.

Merry Meetings run at Shakespeare’s Globe until 11th October 2012. For more information on the talks, performances and workshops and how you can get involved, visit their website.

Image credit: Shakespeare’s Globe

Becky Brewis

Becky Brewis

Becky Brewis is Commissioning Editor of AYT. She is a freelance writer and editor and has written for Huffington Post UK and IdeasTap and reviews theatre for Broadway World and One Stop Arts. Sub-editing includes IdeasTap, Nick Hern Books and fashion and art magazines Nowness and Wonderland. She has worked for theatres and arts organisations including the Finborough, the Pleasance, the Southbank Centre, Cecil Sharp House and the Barbican Centre.

More Posts - Website

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Spotlight On: Liverpool’s Young Everyman Playhouse

Posted on 20 July 2012 by Abigail Lewis

When the young people involved abbreviate the Young Everyman Playhouse to YEP and pronounce it “yep”, it sounds like an affirmation. Yep, I am young and ambitious and theatre is what I want to be involved in. Yep, I balance this with school/college/university and I am proud of everything I have achieved.

The Young Everyman Playhouse is the youth theatre programme at Liverpool’s Everyman and Playhouse theatres, open to anyone aged 11 to 25. At a time when many young people are clamouring for more involvement in theatre, YEP is pretty spectacular in its scope. Far from providing an opportunity for kids to act on weekends, the programme is organised into strands that encompass every aspect of running a theatre. Young Actors act, Young Writers write, Young Technicians work with lighting and sound and Young Communicators focus on the promotion, advertising and marketing of shows.

“A bit of everything is needed to involve more young people in theatre,” said YEP Director Matt Rutter. “We need to have cheap tickets and shows that are relevant to young people. Theatre that is made by young people has an appeal for young audiences, and that’s what we need because they are the future theatregoers, performers and directors. In the next ten to 15 years it will be them who take over from us. YEP is great because it gives them confidence, a skills base, and allows them to progress to where they want to go.” His aims are high, and he truly believes the programme can have an effect on theatres as a whole. “We’re hoping to embed these young people within theatres. At the moment, we’re still in the beginning phases so the programme is led by me artistically, but next year we will be transferring the artistic leadership over to them, with the new Young Programmers strand. We’re aiming for a holistic, all-encompassing feel. We want them to have a voice at every level of the theatres.”

17-year-old Hannah McGowan certainly feels her role as Young Communicator has given her a strong voice. The Young Communicators organised the launch of YEP, designing the logo and all the prints. The programme mirrors the way theatres advertise and promote their own shows, and after working with YEP their work feeds into the wider programme and they become involved in marketing for the main house shows.

“It was something I wouldn’t usually go for,” said McGowan. “I study drama at college, I act. But it was in a theatre and I figured you should know more about what goes on in the theatre than just what you want to do. Then when I started, I fell in love with it straight away. It was something different, I didn’t need any experience, and you learn so much from it.” She sees these lessons as valuable life skills that she can transfer into other areas. “There are things I didn’t know about theatre until I started, which I can now take into college coursework. It sets me apart, and it’s easy to balance YEP and college. It’s going to open loads of different doors for everybody who’s involved.” She also appreciates the cheaper tickets that are offered to her. “We’re really lucky to have the £5 ticket deals. I can afford that, compared to going somewhere else. Theatre is inaccessible to me outside of the Everyman and Playhouse, it’s too tricky with money. Here it’s plain and simple.”

Young Actor Nick Crosbie, 19, has found YEP a valuable step towards becoming an actor and the perfect way to spend his gap year. “I auditioned at drama schools last year and didn’t get a place because of lack of experience. So I took a gap year this year and came to YEP, where every week we do new stuff, we dedicate a whole week to shows, and I can gain that experience I need. I’m looking forward to auditioning for drama school again next year and seeing what improvements I’ve made.” He elaborated on his experience with YEP. “We have three seasons. In the first season we do workshops, which vary – we could be doing improvisation for one night, stage combat for another. The second term is show term. We did Intimate, which was an experimental piece of theatre about young people dealing with war. We’ve all been to the theatre and sat down and seen a show, but this play was different. The audience walked around and took part in it. We also did You Are Being Watched, which was like a comedy spoof on James Bond, similar to Austin Powers. We performed that in the middle of the shopping centre, in front of four hundred people! In the third season we come up with ideas and we perform whatever we want to do. It could be stage combat, monologues, comedy sketches, anything. I’m so much more confident with my acting now.”

Perhaps what characterises these young practitioners above all is how strongly they feel about the way in which YEP has enhanced their career prospects. 20-year-old Jamie Thompson is a Young Technician, working through an eight-month programme in which they run the technical side of all the YEP performances. They also work quite closely with the Playhouse technicians, getting hands on experience assisting with various performances that come into the Playhouse.

“I entered the programme with no experience; we all learnt from a basic level. It was a lighting course originally but as it went on, other people wanted to learn about sound, so it expanded through the students in the group. I sort of fell into it through people that I knew and other places that I’d volunteered at. I met people from Playhouse and they explained what it was. I was really interested in the opportunity, it sounded like a gateway to contacts and experience that I wouldn’t have been able to get anywhere else. I was right – through this, I’ve gained some great contacts and I’ve started getting work through them. I’ve been working with different independent theatre companies, radio stations, and venues. It’s made a huge difference in terms of my future career prospects. I’d finished college and I had no sense of direction. This has put me into so many different things I can work on. It’s expanded my knowledge tenfold without a great deal of pressure, since the environment is very relaxed and supportive.”

Thompson’s clear pride in what he has achieved and the emotive way he discusses the Young Everyman Playhouse conveys just how much potential the programme has. “It gives you a great feeling when everything comes together and you can see the finished product, the shows and events that we’ve worked on. Being a part of that gives you a feeling that is indescribable. It makes you so proud. I’ve been able to work with some absolutely brilliant people. I feel such a high sense of achievement.” YEP truly is an affirmation of this achievement.

Find out more about Liverpool Young Everyman Playhouse scheme by visiting their website.

Image credit: Brian Roberts

Comments (0)

Advertise Here
Advertise Here

Join our E-Newsletter

Exclusive offers, opportunities and updates from AYT.