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Auditioning for Brandeis productions takes perseverance and practice

Published: September 5, 2014
Section: Arts, Etc.

For many years, Brandeis has had a rich theater history. This year, first-years can look forward to a spectacular year of theater productions.

There are various theater organizations on campus. Brandeis Theater Company (BTC), the theater department’s performing ensemble, has auditions that are open to all. There is the Undergraduate Theater Collective (UTC), which includes five theater groups: Boris’ Kitchen, Brandeis Players, Brandeis Ensemble Theater, Hillel Theater Group and Tympanium Euphorium. Additionally, there is Hold Thy Peace, which produces Shakespeare and other classic plays. Finally, there is the Free Play Theater Cooperative, Brandeis’ student-run experimental, independent theater company.

The theater department announces its auditions on its listserv and on Facebook, and the Arts at Brandeis Facebook page does as well. There are often posters all over campus displaying what the upcoming shows will be. Outside the SCC theater, there is a large Brandeis UTC poster with the schedule for the entire season. There is also the State of the Arts magazine, which comes out at the beginning of each semester and is available in all the arts buildings, the SCC, the Faculty Club and online on the Office of the Arts website.

According to Ingrid Schorr, assistant director of the Office of the Arts, most directors and producers want to hear a short monologue that lasts less than two minutes. “It can be an excerpt from a play or even a piece of literature or your own writing. They will ask for contemporary or classical; the latter can include Shakespeare, Roman or Greek drama, or another ‘older’ piece.”

For a musical, students are required to sing a short excerpt of a song, and if there is a piano accompanist, one should bring sheet music. “Sometimes they will give out pages of the play ahead of time for you to read. The theater department always makes these available. At callbacks—the second round of auditions—you will be asked to read from the play, often with another actor,” she explained .

Hannah Mitchell ’17, a stage manager, encourages everyone to audition even if they do not have experience with theater. “The UTC is a very accepting place and we love to see new faces audition. During auditions, relax and have fun! Auditions should be a fun experience. My freshman year, I was not sure if I wanted to audition or be a stage manager. The first common auditions, I decided to audition for one show and I got a callback but didn’t get in. I then decided to email the stage managers about being an assistant stage manager. After some interviews, I ended up being an assistant stage manager for ‘The Children’s Hour.’ It was an amazing experience and I made a lot of really great friends. I also was in the cast of the 24-Hour Musical and absolutely loved it,” she said.

Directors and producers are looking for an ensemble of actors who are right for the part and for each other. Actors may be talented but not the right fit for a particular group of actors. “They’re looking for actors who listen—if they give you a suggestion for doing the monologue or reading again, they want to see how you interpret that suggestion. And as an actor, your job is to make your scene partner look good—to be generous and present and attentive, not acting up a storm just to be impressive,” said Schorr.

Each audition is good practice for the next one. To prepare for auditions, know your piece well. Don’t apologize if you mess up. Just keep going. The director and producer know that people get nervous. You don’t have to explain. Try and look happy to be there. If you are cast, you’ll be spending a lot of time together, and they’ll be looking for people they can get along with.