This week has been full of auditions. I’ve had friends going for drama school auditions, and I’ve also posted our first audition notice looking for an actress for Love Remains. It’s a strange feeling, because we’ve always worked with people who we know, and now we’ve begun to widen our net. I’ve been generally advertising through our website and Facebook page, but also looking for friends of friends etc., to try and get as many people as possible to audition.
So what am I actually looking for in an actress? The character is manipulative but also vulnerable. However, being able to portray this isn’t the only thing I need. In fact it almost isn’t the first priority. The most important thing is that she shares our principles: we’re committed to making sure that everybody involved in a project is treated equally, and has equal creative input. I’m looking for somebody who’s happy to get stuck in, and that doesn’t appeal to some actors. For us to work together we need to get on, and to be equally committed to the company and the piece. In any two-handed play the relationship between the two characters is key, and the power of Love Remains definitely relies on the chemistry between Julian and Sarah.
I’ve decided to run the auditions like informal interviews, with a brief chat about what the actress is doing at the moment, and then a quick read of a scene and a discussion about it. I think this approach should make the process less daunting for the actress and also for me and Phil (who’s playing Julian). However there’s been much debate in the company as to whether we should also ask for a prepared monologue.
I’m not sure if I share the drama school view that hearing a monologue is enough to be able to see potential – surely it should be as much about who the candidate is and how they present themselves. The panel should be seeing a spark, seeing an actor with whom they might want to work, not judging on a short speech. I definitely disagree with Jack Davies’ blog which is suggests that acting is just about “inhabiting a character”. Acting has got to be about commitment and precision, and also about the actor themselves.
How should drama schools or theatre companies such as ours run our audition process? Should it be incredibly forced and professional, with just a monologue and no comments or discussion, or should it be more about the actor rather than the acting, and how we get on with them? Perhaps I’m comparing two very different processes, but even so I hate the thought of auditions in the style of The X Factor. I feel that although these reality television auditions work for that style, they shouldn’t be what we’re actually implementing in the real world. Auditions are much tougher than they appear on X Factor, and perhaps it’s the fault of these programmes that the audition process feels so confused for me. Candidates no longer seem to know what to expect, and as a ‘judge’, I no longer know what to expect or ask for.
But my feelings about how auditions are conducted aside, I wish everybody who’s applying to drama schools this season the best of luck. There will be many, many talented performers who don’t get places this year, and I suggest that you seriously think about getting involved with a group such as ours. The experience of running a company yourself is absolutely invaluable. Perhaps I can stick my neck out slightly and suggest that drama school isn’t necessarily the only way into the industry.