We began tonight with a discussion about which parts everyone is interested in playing, as well as a conversation about how we are going to do our casting. We have talked about doing more formal auditions than we have in the past, as there was some conflict last year when we had an open discussion and “blind” vote.
There were varying opinions on the matter. A longtime ensemble member said, “I don’t like the idea of an audition because a lot of people don’t have time to prepare and give it their all. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” Of course then several of us reminded her that the way we did this last year does need adjusting. “I’d like to audition because I’ve never done it, and then we’ll really feel like we’ve earned our spots,” said one woman. “What if the audition is optional, and if you don’t want to, you can just talk about why you want the part?” suggested another. “We’ve seen so much of each other – we know each other so well at this point. It would be quicker not to do it,” said another woman.
We kept going round and round, and it was clear that there was not going to be group consensus one way or the other, so we started suggesting compromises. The one we decided to roll with is to move through the entire play, utilizing our “freeze” style of exploring, and having only people actually interested in a given role tag in and out for it. That way, we can think about casting while not putting unwelcome pressure and stress on the people who don’t want a formal audition. It may not be perfect, but that’s what we settled on. We believe we can get through the entire play by the end of next Tuesday, at which point everyone will vote anonymously in writing. Anyone who is absent Tuesday will be able to vote Friday, and we’ll have our cast after that.
After we had gone through Act I, we had time to chat. One woman who had had an especially bad day but showed up anyway, said,“I feel so much better. I’ve been trying not to feel like Iago, and I feel so much better now.”
Someone mentioned how exciting it was to see a woman who hasn’t gotten up much volunteer frequently. “You said show what you’ve got,” she said, “So I’m showing it, ‘cause I really want a part. I signed up for a lot – somebody’s not gonna want something and it’s gonna come right to me!”
Before we left, I asked the group how everyone was feeling. “It’s amazing,” said one woman. “Even though we’ve read it so much and keep doing the same thing over and over, it just keeps getting better.”
We spent the entire time tonight moving through the middle of the play, “freeze” style. We made great headway and got to see some wonderful work from a lot of people. People are being very generous with one another, offering each other chances to get up and explore rather than monopolizing a given part.
The give and take is great, and so is the passion and energy that each volunteer is bringing when she reads. One woman who has been fairly quiet but signed up as being interested in a number of “major” roles volunteered frequently, which is quite exciting.
The group is getting antsy to make cuts so we know the script we’re actually working with, but we are waiting till after casting to do this, as people may have lines they are very attached to, and we don’t want to cut things only to add them back in later.