Author Topic: Auditions  (Read 4457 times)

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oso_te_great

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« on: May 16, 2006, 04:23 pm »
I am going to be the sm for a hs production of Stage Door

My director tells me that he wants me to be involved in the audition process.

What exactly does a sm do during the actual auditions? (besides the organization)

What purpose does he serve sitting in on the auditions?

thanks to all who give advice
« Last Edit: Feb 11, 2008, 12:34 pm by PSMKay »
Malcolm Foster
Seattle Academy Class of 2007
University of Montana Class of 2011

Mac Calder

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« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2006, 10:52 pm »
The majority is organisation. They may want you to duplicate filled out audition forms, take head shots, brief the actors on the audition process etc. You will most likely be in charge of sign-up/sign-in, making sure refreshments are there, organising audition scripts/excerpts, if they are aloud to use tape/cd for backing music, you will often have to organise that,

The other part depends on the director - some like to ask you your opinion, some don't. If you are a company SM with a guest director, it is not uncommon to be 'interrogated' about certain actors, especially if there is not a casting officer/producer within the company.

With things like Auditions, it ranges from two extreams, one you operate like a secretary, the other it seems like you are running the whole thing (except for the final decisions of course).

ljh007

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« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2006, 08:56 am »
The role of a director at an audition is to examine and evaulate the actors and to compose a cast for the show.

The SM usually does everything else. As mc says, your duties could range from receptionist to chief administrator. Some essentials:
-create audition forms for actors to fill out. Sort of like job applications. (include contact info, past experience, availability, etc. Actors usually bring resumes and headshots - attach these to your audition form)
-Welcoming actors and coralling them in a waiting area while individuals audition for the director.
-Creating a sign-up list of audition order
-Setting up the audition space, including a table and chairs for the audition panel (a jar of pencils and some water bottles would be nice)
-Administering the auditions: shuffling actors in and out as effeciently as possible
-Maybe you are asked to phone actors with callback info
-Maybe you are asked to phone actors who don't make the show (this is a depressing job!)
-Making name tags, if the director wants these (I've rarely seen them used, except in group auditions)
-Running the CD player if the audition includes performing to recorded music.
-Snapping digital photos if the director wants "on-the-spot" pics of auditioners
-Cleaning up after
-Keeping your eye on the clock to make sure no auditioner gobbles up too much time. Some people like to hang out after their reading trying to suck-up to the director. You have every right to poke into the room and ask if the director wants to see the next actor. It's only fair - everyone deserves to be auditioned in a timely manner, and you don't deserve to lose your entire afternoon because each actor took a private chat session with the director.

It's an implicit directive that you should try to make the audition environment as calm, creative, and professional as possible. A crazed, messy audition room will probably not help actors do their best, and will take the director's focus away from the talent.

While you're busy making all this happen, you probably won't see many of the actual auditions. So it might be hard for you to comment on the talent (or lack thereof). Most directors I've worked with never ask the SM about casting choices. But a few do. Specifically, they might ask you about how someone looked, about their singing voice, about their personality. I recommend never to offer an opinion unless asked. And the only exception I would make to this would be if someone demonstrated an extremely disagreeable personality under your witness (doing drugs in the audition hallway, for example - only something that extreme). You should share info like this with the director, because such behavior could be extremely destructive to the overall production process.

A few other things -
-If there's singing in the audition, folks will probably ask for a place to warm-up. Have some ideas of where to send them.
-Know where the nearest drinking fountain and restrooms are.
-Be able to tell people if casting will be completed today, or a time by when they can expect to know the results of the audition.
-Be able to tell people the exact beginning and ending dates of the production engagement, and general rehearsal times (evenings til 9? or til 11?).
-If there's dancing in the audition, be sure the waiting area has lots of space for dancers to spread out and stretch.
-If the director will ask them to read from a script, have extra copies (even just of the audition excerpts) available for actors to peruse while waiting.
-It is NOT your job to be a cheerleader, therapist, or gofer for either the director or auditioners. Smoothing ruffled feathers or massaging egos will take too much time away from running the busy auditions. Auditions are emotional, but it's not your job to make sure everybody's happy-happy. It's your job to make the audition happen.

Mac Calder

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« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2006, 09:45 am »
One thing you will really need to look into is the number of people you expect to audition. If your director refuses to do group auditions with a large draw play, you REALLY need to think about logistics.

In a day, I would say 50 is the MOST people you can put in. That is less than 10 minutes per person, auditioning for 8 hours. So you may need to arrange scheduling. What I like to do is create an order sheet. I put 40 spots on each day, each is a 12 minute slot (10 minute audition with 1 minute either side).

The way I have been doing it recently in large casts (and after convincing the director) is I have every auditionee come in on day 1, at 9am. I let the director brief everyone on the show, what they are looking for etc. Then I get up and do my administrative bit, describing the process.

Then I ask for them to come towards my 'sign up crew' (Yes, I use a crew on larger scale shows) and work on a first in, first serve basis, handing out the paperwork. If we have a 1 week audition period, I like to delegate one person to the first three days, and one to the last 2 days and put a nice sign behind each one. The process basically goes fill out your form, book a time and hand in form. In return we give you a card with the time and your audition form number. I warn them that they will be required at least 15 minutes before their call time, and will be alowed dedicated use of a warm up room 10 minutes before their audition.

In large scale auditions, I make the excerpts available online, and then in the audition waiting room I leave a hand full of them.

Large scale auditions are a long and tedious process and your time will be spent doing HUGE amounts of paperwork and organising paperwork. You will notice I mentioned audition form numbers - they make the logistical nightmare far less nightmareish I find (because I use the same number on everything, I don't need to know names or spellings of names)

Remember you HAVE to leave a break for lunch and you should leave one mid afternoon and one nid morning break as well (working on the 8 and a half hour day, I have 4 hours (20 slots, one crossed out in the middle for a break) half hour break then another 4 hours with the same layout as the morning)

loebtmc

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« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2006, 03:27 pm »
Formal AEA principal calls allot 20 minutes per 6 people - or approx 3 minutes a person w a 2-minute window for pee breaks and chatting IF the auditors choose to chat - and a full hour to an hour and a half for meal breaks in the middle (because the auditors are sure to cheat on both sides, either ending the pre-lunch call or getting stuck wherever they went to eat)

Mac Calder

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« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2006, 08:56 pm »
Really? I have never (when working in musical theatre anyway) seen an audition run at less than 5 minutes (an instant no). If it was a straight dramatic play, then I could imagin 3 minutes per person working (at a squeeze).

ReyYaySM

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« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2006, 10:10 am »
At the "cattle call" auditions I ran in college, we saw 15 people every 20 minutes.  They got one minute each to do a monologue of their choosing.  Depending on what shows we were casting, there were nights when we would be there 250-300 people auditioning and we would have to listen to all of those monologues (my favorite, of course, the girl who came up and said, "I will now be doing a monologue from the motion picture, Center Stage.")

My function as the stage manager function at those particular auditions was to organize everything ahead of time, post sign-up lists, arrange hospitality for the directors and my audition staff (volunteers who I asked to help out), etc.  For the actual audition day, my ASM ran everything on the outside, and I ran the room on the inside which basically meant keeping things running smoothly and on time and assisting the director in keeping all of the headhots/resumes sorted.  An accordion file or file folders labeled by character or yes/no/maybe can help you be able to sort as you go as opposed to in the middle of the night.  My ASM cleaned everything outside of the room as soon as the last audition group came up, then cleaned up the room as I went into a conference with the director to create the callback list.  

Callbacks were always much less hectic because they were smaller, but my ASM and I tended to run them the same way as the auditions.

Hope yours run smoothly!

KFullerton

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« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2006, 01:55 pm »
With the auditions I've worked they've all been 3 minute slots with a 2 1/2 maximum acting/singing time. It's kinda crazy, but it works.

Along the lines of what everybody else said, mostly it's up to the director. But I think the most important thing is to keep your mouth shut. We had some SMs working auditions for our school shows (one big audition at the beginning of the semester for all the shows) and was privy to some of the discussion in the room of directors and chose to spread it amongst the auditioners. Not cool. If a director asks your opinion, great, if not, that's okay too but don't just chime in with it. The director I worked with on MacB this past December asked my opinion about how the sets of girls he was auditioning for the witches looked together and took my opinon to heart. But then a different director might not do that.

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