Auditioning for a play is a big step in a child’s theater education. As a parent, you can help guide your child through this sometimes trying-but certainly rewarding-experience. The most important thing you can do is listen to your child. Make sure that they are ready for the experience of being part of a play, and try not to encourage them beyond their level of comfort. When the time is right, their eagerness will let you know!
1. How do I prepare for the audition?
First, find out what is required for the audition. Generally, for an STC production, an actor is asked to prepare a one-minute monologue (memorized) or sing a song for a musical. Attend a pre-audition meeting or workshop if it is offered. This workshop will often be scheduled one or two weeks prior to the actual audition.
Practice at home. The better your child knows their piece, the more confident they will be during the audition. The actual audition day can be quite overwhelming. The best thing you can do is stay relaxed and help your child stay relaxed. Concentrate on the fun of performing, not the idea of “getting in the play.” Afterward, stay positive! If your child comes out of the audition disappointed, do your best to stay positive. They may feel that they did not do their best, but it is very difficult to perform in an audition situation, and usually they are harder on themselves than anyone.
2. What are callbacks?
A callback means that the director would like to see the child again, perhaps to hear them read from the script or see them next to another actor. A callback is not a guarantee of either being in the show, or of not being in the show. Sometimes a role is cast from the initial audition. Sometimes your child will be given scenes to study for the callback. More often, the actors will be asked to perform “cold readings” from the script.
3. How will we know if my child is cast?
About one day after callbacks, the director will call to offer roles to selected actors. Once each role has been accepted and the cast list is finalized, an e-mail announcement will be made to everyone who auditioned. It may take several days before the cast has been solidified, so it is important to help your child be patient during this time.
4. My child wasn’t offered a role or didn’t get the part he or she wanted. Now what?
If your child is either not cast, or is cast but does not get the role they were interested in, you will probably see your child very disappointed. This is the most difficult part of the process for both the child and the parent. Please help your child to feel good about themselves by praising their courage, and the hard work they put into their audition piece. Remind them that not getting a part in a play in no way means that they are not talented, it just means that there was not a perfect part for them in this particular play. Being part of the technical crew is a good way for a child to be involved in the production process. Also, encourage them to audition again in the future. Auditioning is a skill, and like any skill, takes practice!
5. But why didn’t I get the part?
Here are the most common reasons, some of which you have little or no control over.
1.Conflicts: If two actors had great auditions, but one child’s schedule conflicts with rehearsals or performance dates, the part goes to the actor without conflicts.
2. Behavior: The auditioning process begins the moment you enter the door until you leave. Many times actors have a great audition for the director, but do not follow instructions during group activities, or do not demonstrate good courteous behavior while waiting with the other actors. The STC staff might take this as a sign that the student will be difficult to work with. And if you do get cast in a play, remember that your behavior during rehearsals is also important. Directors talk to each other and you are always auditioning for your next role!
3. Volume: If a director strains to hear or understand the actor at auditions, she can’t get a true sense of his or her abilities. In addition, she may be wondering how hard she’ll have to work at rehearsal to get the actor to project. The director will always select the actor she can actually hear and understand.
4. Someone else was better prepared at auditions: The actor giving the more polished performance has an advantage. That child has shown that he or she is enthusiastic about the show and is serious about wanting the part and working hard at it. A director can’t help but be impressed by someone who’s put that much work into it before they’ve even gotten the part. On the other hand, nothing turns off a director more quickly than an actor who shows up for the audition completely unprepared. Pay attention to the audition requirements. If you have been asked to prepare a monologue or song, then do so.
5. Another actor was physically better suited for the part: Some of the physical requirements for a part may be age, height, weight, coloring, hair length or style, to mention a few. Without the ability to make oneself taller/shorter or older/younger, there’s not much the actor can do about this one but wait for the role he or she is perfectly suited for.
6. The director wanted a certain (fill in the blank) Directors are human beings with personal tastes and, most importantly, a vision for the production. An actor may have an excellent audition, but if he or she doesn’t fit the director’s vision, it is an obstacle that is often difficult to overcome. The actor may be absolutely perfect for the next show.
6. Why does STC charge a participation fee?
Like many nonprofit theater companies, we are not able to cover all of our production expenses with ticket sales. The participation fee is used to offset the cost of renting rehearsal and performance space, director/stage manager/and designer honorariums, costumes, sets and other expenses. The additional money from participation fees allows STC to put on fully produced shows in a major theater venue and provide our young actors the opportunity to learn theater arts from outstanding Iowa State University performing arts students and theater professionals.
7. Is there scholarship aid?
Story Theater Company is committed to making its programs accessible to all. If your child is cast and needs financial aid, please ask the producer for a scholarship application. Typically, STC offers a partial reduction in the participation fee, although scholarship funds are limited.