35 to 20. Ish.
“Disney has the best casting. If he doesn’t like an actor he just tears him up.” – Alfred Hitchcock
This weekend Bare Theatre held its seventh season auditions. Our format in the last few years has been an afternoon in Raleigh and an afternoon in Durham, since we perform in various venues around the Triangle. We normally do a warm-up and a contact improvisation exercise first, to get actors to relax and think about something else besides auditioning for complete strangers. It also gives us a chance to see how people move and interact with other actors.
In past auditions we would ask for one Shakespeare monologue and one contemporary monologue, and after each Carmen and/or Heather would then “do” something to the actor, like have people hold them down on the floor while they delivered their monologue. Or deliver it as Godzilla would. And some people think we’re weird.
This year we changed it up a bit. After taking part in the Triangle General Auditions at Manbites Dog Theater in Durham (an excellent experience – the guys behind Manbites are amazing), we had already seen one 2-minute monologue from each of over 120 actors in one day. This gave us the chance to invite actors we had never seen before and then concentrate on having them read sides, from Much Ado and also a couple of short films from Altercation Pictures and A Bit Inside Productions. I had to skip the “doing” something to the actors part, which I missed, but we had a bigger turnout than ever and we simply did not have time.
A friend of ours recently commented that as a director, auditions made her more nervous than the actors. I have to agree. For the director there is so much you have to think about that goes into production, including auditions, that you constantly feel like you’re forgetting something, and you usually are. Or at least that’s how it is for me.
So I was a bit nervous. Confident that I would be able to cast a show, but nervous.
We had 35 actors between the two days, which I thought was amazing for a holiday weekend (many actors I had invited were out of town this weekend). 23 women and 12 men. Much Ado has 16 main named roles, and just 4 of them are specifically female.
We do cross-gender casting at Bare in practically every show. In Shakespeare’s time all of the actors were male, and they played the few female parts in each play. In our liberated day and age, it tends to go the other way, with women having to take on male parts, since Shakespeare simply did not write that many female roles.
There are a few roles that can double up with only a few lines or no lines. This is good, because it gives actors with less lines more stage time. So I am thinking of a cast of about 20. 35 to 20. Ish. Maybe 21. And of the 23 women that auditioned, 4 will get parts that are specifically designated as women.
And only one of them is Beatrice, which is the part that every woman wants to play. Can you see why I’m nervous?
I will say right now that I was blown away by the talent I saw this weekend. Not only did we get an incredible turnout, but we saw so much ability and versatility. I easily have at least 3 or 4 people who could knock each of the main roles out of the park. This is a good problem to have – for the director. For the actor…well, this is what actors face all the time. They might be incredible (and many I saw this weekend were), but they might not be the best fit for a particular part.
I can honestly say I wish I had more roles to hand out. There were actors I saw who would be fantastic in other shows! Sigh. I still want to please everyone, actors included. It just won’t happen, no matter what I do. 35 to 20. Ish.
Tonight there will be head shots spread out across my living room floor.