As I am planning my auditions for this weekend I am reminded of an incident many years ago when I went out for an open casting call – or ‘cattle call’ as they are known.
I remember standing in a long line that wrapped around a building – think Disney’s Matterhorn ride. It was easily an hour later when I made my way inside the building. I finally got up to the front of that line and the gal who was checking us in. I proudly gave her my photo and resume and she looked at me, and she put a check mark by my name on the list. She then pointed to the door on the left.
“Over there,” she said with a smile. And I smiled back. And then headed over to the door, opened it, and stepped through.
And I was outside!
So as I prepared for this weekend I wanted to make sure I created an environment where the actresses would feel welcome, respected, appreciated. It is no easy job putting yourself out there, time after time – only to be told you are too tall, too short, too thin, too fat – to say nothing of your actual talent or abilities.
Very importantly – I wanted to create an environment where the actresses would feel a little bit more at ease, a little safer to reveal what they truly had to offer: To let me see a glimpse of their souls. To give me some insight as to how they might work and blend with the other actresses I would be bringing into the mix.
What felt right was to bring them in in groups of five, so that they would have other actresses to relate to as they read their sides. Not just the deer in the headlight, read to the darkness, type of experience. It would also allow me to witness what the other actresses were doing if they were not reading, a gauge as to how much the actress ‘gave’ to the scene.
Finally, as I am a lover of improvisation (not the stand up type) as a way to discover about a character, this would give us a chance to play and explore for a few minutes after the readings. Again, this process would give me more insights as to who they were when they were tapping into their own inspiration with no one else’s words to worry about.
This part, the casting, is one of the most critical components of the production. Without these women, this project is just words on a page – they will bring it to life. So, I am going into the auditions open minded, open hearted, knowing that who I select may not be the most obvious choice. She may not necessarily blaze with confidence or charisma right at the get go, but in the long run she will give her heart, soul and talent to the project.
And regardless of whether the actresses are selected or not, I want their experience with this audition to feel worthwhile and heartening. Perhaps, they were not quite who I was looking for, but I want them to believe they have something important and valuable to offer the world – and that they need to trust themselves and keep on trying.
To the next step in the Journey!