Frequently- Asked Questions About Auditioning
Q. Do I have to prepare anything for auditions, or just show up?
A. In most cases you can just show up and you'll be given a script to look over and then present, after you've filled out the auditions info form. However, certain major productions do require "prepared" auditions, which means that you'll be expected to memorize and rehearse something to present at the auditions. This is always true of musical productions and for the Shakespeare Festival.
Q. Can I prepare something to present at an audition even if it's not required?
A. Certainly. Students do this all the time and they always stand a better chance of getting cast because the directors can see their talent much better. You may know of anthologies containing
Bart Williams (Actors Equity Assn.) and Nykkie Rizley in KING HENRY THE FOURTH PART ONE
monologs or scenes (you'll need a partner for scenes, of course), or just visit the campus library that has an excellent collection.
Q. I've heard that drama majors always get the best parts. Is that true?
A. No, it's not. Drama students often do get good roles simply because they've had more acting and auditioning classes, and more performance experience, than the average student. The same goes for music students auditioning for musicals, or dance students in the dance concerts. But cast lists in all plays contain a number of "non-majors," often in leading and supporting roles. It all depends on the audition and your experience!
Q. Do I have to pay some kind of activities fee if I'm cast in a play? Or sign up for a required course or anything?
A. Nope, not a thing. No money, no required courses. Some principal actors in the Shakespeare Festival are required to enroll in an afternoon rehearsal lab for six or seven weeks, but that's it. You may have to buy your own makeup kit, though, if you're fussy about sharing makeup (and possible skin diseases!).
Q. When do plays rehearse? Will I have to give up my weekends and holidays for rehearsals?
A. Usually not. Some principal actors in the Shakespeare Festival begin rehearsals a week before classes in August, but they're paid generous stipends to come back to campus a week early. And sometimes the music department will want to rehearse singers in the musical for a few days over Christmas break, if possible. Otherwise, play rehearsals for mainstage shows will normally be in the evenings, and no rehearsals during academic holidays. Of course, student shows, film & TV projects, and summer shows sometimes have different rehearsal hours in order to "work around" mainstage show rehearsals and students' schedules.
Q. What if I have night classes? Or a night job? Should I just forget about being in plays?
A. Not at all. A lot of student shows and film/TV productions rehearse during the days. And even mainstage directors "work around" evening classes if you happen to be booked for a night or two each week. More than that, however, and your chances of getting cast are slim. And of course-you MUST be able to make all final dress rehearsals and performances. No exceptions there!
Q. This is an "extra-curricular activity," right? Or can I earn course credit for being in plays?
A. Many students "volunteer" to participate in stage productions as actors, managers, or stage technicians. However, at GVSU students can also earn graded semester lab credit for the time they spend working on shows. This ranges from 1 - 3 semester credits, and students register for this just as with any other course. However, students can only register for lab credits AFTER the semester in which the show is done--or for any semester following. See your faculty supervisor about this (stage director, lighting designer, etc.)
Q. So that's it? That's all I need to know in order to audition at GVSU?
A. Pretty much-unless you want to "sharpen" your audition skills in order to land better roles. GVSU theatre offers classes in auditioning, and each Fall professional actors conduct auditioning workshops in our studios. The theatre faculty are sometimes available to coach students individually who are preparing an audition for something. You can sign up for all these things.
Q. What else can I do to improve my auditioning?
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
A. Well, the campus library contains a lot of material on "how to audition"-including the popular handbook by Prof. Ellis of the GVSU faculty: THE COMPLETE AUDITION BOOK FOR YOUNG ACTORS. And you should always try to read the play (or watch a recording of it) before you try out for a role. The campus library has copies on reserve for all the shows done at GVSU, sometimes online. Finally, be sure to look through the "current news" features on the theatre website for articles about the show that's auditioning. You'll find a lot of helpful info there about the show.
Q. Can I contact the show's director about the casting requirements? Ask questions? That sort of thing?
A. Sure. Directors are named on the "Season Schedule" found on this website, and you can look up the prof in the University's online directory. Or just call the Louis Armstrong Theatre box office (616-331-2300). Students do this all this time, and often learn a lot about the show and roles they're trying-out for.
Q. Do the theatre faculty help students with other kinds of auditions? Like for summer theatres or community shows, beauty pageants, etc?
A. Absolutely. Theatre faculty do a lot of individual coaching, mostly with theatre students but also for others. It all depends on whether or not they have the time.
Q. Okay, so what sort of "tips" can I get about doing a good audition at GVSU?
A. You should remember that directors aren't looking for a "finished role" at an audition, they're looking for your potential. So don't concentrate on "getting it right" when you try out for a play, concentrate on acting the scene with energy, belief and commitment. Take risks! Show the directors what you can do! Directors are especially interested in seeing how you speak, how you move, and how you relate to your acting partner during the audition. Be sure to do these things. Create a vital relationship at tryouts, and you'll do just fine! In addition, the Shakespeare Festival website contains "tips" for doing a good audition that apply to Shakespeare and many other plays being cast.