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Handbook Appendices Forms Theatre Scholarships For Theatre Majors, Minors, and Intendeds University Theatre Handbook Table of Contents Theatre Home

• B.5  Our Procedures

Any well-ordered and successful theatre production program must establish ways of doing business which are consistent and understandable.  SPU University Theatre is no excep­tion; we have procedural policies aplenty.  Most of them are standard theatre practice.  And while they may sometimes feel limiting, arbitrary restrictions on creative activity is not the intention.  Quite the opposite.  This section will attempt to at least outline policies related to our work together.

B.5.a  Audition and casting policies and procedures.  Auditions are the gateway to the per­formance experience.  They are seldom easy, because so much is riding on them.  The experienced director knows that appropriate casting is a third of the way to a successful production.  The actor knows that without the role, he cannot practice his art.  There is no simple answer to this tension; all that can be done is for both sides to approach the situation seriously, make the best effort, and move on.  Professional demeanor and trust are essential, as in any job interview.

Auditions for all University Theatre productions are open calls, which means that audi­tion appointments are available to anyone within a Seattle Pacific constituency group: students, faculty and staff members, alumni, and friends of the university.  They are open to any student, regardless of major, and to all theatre scholarship holders and non-scholar­ship holders.

Rehearsal periods are normally six to ten weeks in duration, and auditions are scheduled to coincide with that pattern.  Under our present practice of three mainstage and two studio productions, we conduct auditions at four times during the academic year.  The pattern is as follows:

               Mainstage I and II                        First week of Autumn quarter

               Mainstage III and Studio #1       First week of Winter quarter

               Studio #2                                        First week of Spring Quarter

               University Players                        Mid to Late May

Auditions are announced through standard campus-alert methods: theatre students mail­ing list, theatre callboard posting, flyers distributed across campus (including dormitories), campus newsletter (To The Point) article, the Falcon (when cooperating), announcements in classes.  Audition dates are also announced as a part of the Fine Arts calendar released quarterly.

Auditions are normally conducted by appointment.  This means that auditioners are requested to sign-up for a scheduled block of time with three or four other individuals.  Location, times and required preparation are announced in advance, as is the whereabouts of the sign-up sheets.  Auditions conducted the first week of Autumn quarter seldom require advanced preparation apart from familiarity with posted audition scenes.  Auditions conducted later in the year may require “professional-style” preparation of auditioner-selected and memorized short monologues.  Obviously, singing and other special skills may be required by certain productions.

Usually Call-Back auditions will also be required.  This is especially the case when large numbers of auditioners apply.  They are always group calls.  A posting of the names of called-back auditioners will be made at an announced time and location.  Call-backs are used to test combinations of auditioners and to confirm initial impressions of the director(s).  Cast postings will appear shortly thereafter.

All auditions seek to discover combinations of performers capable of creating ensemble and to convincingly create the characters of the play.  Other qualities being tested include stage presence, self deportment and confidence, applied imagination, vocal control and flexibility, movement capabilities, ability to focus on task, sensitivity to rhythms, and physical characteristics.

Casting is made, first of all, with the best interests of the show in mind.  Occasionally (but only occasionally) the strongest person for a role may have to be passed over in the inter­est of combinations of performers.  The director must be sure that vocal coloration between performers is distinct, that movement characteristics are distinguishable, and that the intended style of the performance is accomplishable by the ensemble.

The director must also acknowledge the educational purposes of the production process.  For this reason, a student performer may have a slight “edge” in casting over non-student auditioners, as may a Theatre major over non-majors, as may an upper class student who has been passed over for casting in other auditions.  This “edge,” if it exists, is minimal, and comes into play only when casting decisions are of the coin-flip nature.  The best interests of the show come first!

The educational purpose the director must serve has to do with allowing student performers to “stretch” their abilities, and includes a judgment about the student’s developmental stage as a performer, and what may be the appropriate next step.  There is an element of risk here, but such is the nature of education.  However, the best interests of the show and the student come first!

Another casting factor for the director is the sense that the performer is dependable and will bring an unusual level of focus to the rehearsal and performance process.  This has implications for the interworkings of the cast, since ensemble is partially based on this factor.  The “whole person” is being cast here, not just a character.  The best interests of the show and the ensemble come first!

Casting individuals whose grade point average will be jeopardized is against University Theatre policy.  The university stipulates a minimum cumulative gpa of 2.00 for students involved in such activities.

The director’s decision on casting stands.  Directors will oftentimes consult with other Theatre faculty members during the casting process and before cast posting. 

Because production calendaring restrictions require rehearsal overlaps, performer involvement in any production during the year will eliminate or compromise casting opportunities in other productions.  The term “compromise” is used to imply that casting may be limited to secondary roles or may not be possible at all.  This is especially true when less than four weeks of rehearsal time is available between the closing of one production and the opening of another.  The pattern is as follows:

Casting restrictions

  Performers cast in Mainstage #1 cannot be cast in Mainstage #2

  Performers cast in Mainstage #2 will be compromised for casting in Studio #1

  Performers cast in Studio #1 will be compromised for casting in Mainstage #3

  Performers cast in Mainstage #3 will be compromised for casting in Studio #2

Next Section: B5b: Actor's Rehearsal and Performance Behavior

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