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Subject: Spring Auditions for Fall Play?

1.  Spring Auditions for Fall Play?

Posted 8 days ago

Hi there! I did a preliminary search for guidance on this, but came up short. If there are existing threads, please shove me towards them! :)

I always struggle with not having enough time for rehearsal and still having actors with scripts in hand during tech week. (I know, I need to be more firm on that part!) One solution I thought about is to audition for the fall play in the spring, thinking that I would then have the summer to play with the script and rough out blocking and visions. The students would have the summer to play with it as well. I would start rehearsals the second week of classes. 

Have any of you doing a set-up like this? What are your thoughts and advices? Thank you! 


P.S. I know, I COULD pick the play in the spring and go over the script during the summer, but let's be honest...I won't. I won't even pick a play until auditions loom - character flaw, yes, changable? Probably not, so that's off the solution shelf. And I know that some students still won't have looked at the play until rehearsals start, but if I can at least attempt to give them a headstart...



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Paige Junge
ELA Teacher, Speech Coach, Thespian Director
Marion IA
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2.  RE: Spring Auditions for Fall Play?

Posted 8 days ago
Paige,

We do this. Two years ago, I started announcing the season the prior spring. It has been a two-fold success. First, they have the summer to get off book. I make the first rehearsal happen as a mid-summer check in to make sure they are on track. The rehearsals start second week of classes and the students are expected to be off book on day one. I describe it as if they were cast in a company, this would be the norm. scripts on stage by and large are not a thing for the pros.

Secondly, as a high school, this allows it to be a special thing for rising sophomores through seniors. It acts as a secondary motivation and allows my freshmen to gain tech experience in the first show easing them into the culture of our troupe. This year's tech crew was comprised of 80% freshmen and they were superb!

Yours in Art,

Jason

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Jason Robert LeClair, MA
Artist/Arts Educator
Director, Thespian Troupe 7444
Beacon Charter High School for the Arts
Woonsocket, RI
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3.  RE: Spring Auditions for Fall Play?

Posted 7 days ago
I always try to announce my fall play at the Drama Club banquet in June .This get the students primed and excited about the upcoming production and saves me reading plays over the summer. And yes, I too never get to blocking and design decisions over the summer break. But I never cast in the spring. I have found that a lot of students aren't sure which activities they will commit to in the fall. Teenagers can change their minds a lot during the summer months. (Perhaps casting in June would force them to commit). Another reason to wait until September is that nothing ignites excitement for your program as much as the incoming freshmen auditioning  a week or so after the start of school. Over the years, many of my freshmen were cast in the fall play; some with major roles. Many also  join stage crew. These are students you will have committed to your program for four years!

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Roger Paolini
Buffalo NY
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4.  RE: Spring Auditions for Fall Play?

Posted 7 days ago
I do spring rehearsals for the fall musical as well.  I cast leads and some of the ensemble in June.  This means that I usually have to spend the money for another month's rental for the show materials, but I have found that it is worth it.  I get scripts out to my leads early in August, which gives them a month with the material before we move into auditions.
I also do a second round of auditions in the fall for transfer students, incoming freshmen, and students who couldn't audition in the fall.
Our musical is always the first show of the year, and we only have @ 7 weeks to get it together once rehearsals start. If I wasn't able to get the scripts to the leads over the summer, I don't think our shows would be nearly as successful as they are. ​

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Robert Ellis
Theater I-IV Honors
Performing Arts Department Lead
Cosby High School
Midlothian, VA
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5.  RE: Spring Auditions for Fall Play?

Posted 7 days ago
I use spring auditions for our fall show, primarily to make certain that we have people to fill the available roles! But an added benefit is that students have it locked in as a fall commitment around which they must plan college visits, sports involvement, and after-school jobs. Learning lines ahead of time is possible, though not pushed. It is summer, after all!

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Charles McMeekin
Sharon VT
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6.  RE: Spring Auditions for Fall Play?

Posted 7 days ago
We have done this for years.

Our first play of the year is in early October. We hold auditions in late May and start rehearsals the week before school starts.

--
Mark A. Zimmerman
Theatre Director,

Akron School for the Arts
Firestone High School
470 Castle Blvd
Akron, Ohio 44313

330-761-3275

FirestoneTheatre.com






7.  RE: Spring Auditions for Fall Play?

Posted 7 days ago
So, I did this for the first time this year, and it was amazing! We auditioned after exams in May, and started table work in June. I used June to do all of the table work/character development, and required them to use the rest of the summer to get off book. We took off the month of July, and started rehearsals back in August on the first day of school. They all were totally off book when we started back in August, and it made the rehearsal process so much easier! We were able to really rehearse, and work totally on the meat of the show.

It was such an amazing experience, and I hope I can continue with it as the norm. I'm just not sure I will always be so on top of my game to have the show picked, and be devoted to rehearsing through the summer.

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Kristi Jacobs-Stanley
New Orleans LA
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8.  RE: Spring Auditions for Fall Play?

Posted 7 days ago
I also follow this format. I've been auditioning a semester before the show for several years and I LOVE it. It makes it so much easier. I also send out info to our feeder middle schools so the incoming 8th graders have the opportunity to audition for their freshman fall show. They have to come in late to the cattle call auditions (unless their parents pull them out of school early) but I've learned to be flexible in how I deal with their opportunities to read and have it pretty smooth at this point.

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Shira Schwartz
Chandler Unified School District
Chandler AZ
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9.  RE: Spring Auditions for Fall Play?

Posted 7 days ago
Shira, I just wanted to shout-out that I LOVE that idea. When I first read this post, I felt fundamentally opposed to the idea. If I'd known that my high school wouldn't let me perform in both of my freshman year shows, I would have simply chosen to attend another high school. (I think it's a completely different situation if you perform a full season of shows, i.e. 5-6 shows a year. If you already have a culture where your most dedicated thespians aren't involved in every production because there are so many of them, then I'd definitely feel free to cast a fall show during the previous school year. However, the high school that I attended only staged two shows a year, and there were no other theatre-related extracurriculars.)

In short, I'd really push you to find a way to make opportunities available for incoming freshmen. That could mean notifying your feeder schools like Shira does; that could mean making freshmen only eligible for the ensemble and then having those auditions at the beginning of the school year; or that could mean allowing incoming freshmen to submit video auditions. However, I feel like if you close the performing arts off to your incoming freshmen (especially for students who might be intimidated by technical theater, like I initially was), then you risk alienating a bunch of students who could become valuable members of your department. Give them a fair chance!

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Victoria Chatfield
Executive Director
National Theatre for Student Artists
www.nationalstudenttheatre.org
vchatfield@nationalstudenttheatre.org
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10.  RE: Spring Auditions for Fall Play?

Posted 7 days ago
Hello!

      I too struggled with this, so two years ago I started casting in the spring with the charge that they were to return to school mostly memorized.  The first year it was somewhat successful as about half came back prepared.  This year it was GREAT!!
The students were almost completely memorized which made blocking efficient and the play was a huge success.  Less stress for all involved!! I highly recommend!!

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Andrea Grace
Denver CO
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11.  RE: Spring Auditions for Fall Play?

Posted 6 days ago
My only issue with this would be that it eliminates incoming freshmen. My fall show was my only "cut show" this year (I didn't have to accept everyone who auditioned), and the 3 freshmen I cast ended up being some of the best talent on the stage.



"There's only us, there's only this: 
Forget regret, or life is yours to miss. 
No other path, no other way. No day 
but today."
-Jonathan Larson
"Rent"

Disario, Jodi
Drama Teacher and Director
Willow Glen High School
jdisario@sjusd.org






12.  RE: Spring Auditions for Fall Play?

Posted 7 days ago
My system for getting kids off book is to do a read-through and table work, then do basic blocking with chunks of the script, each one repeating the next day (A-A, B-B, C-C, D-D).  This typically takes two weeks. By the time we return after that to that each block, no more scripts are permitted on stage, and the slackers must call for LINE each and every time they need it; it's is one PAINFUL week, but the message/peer pressure/embarrassment is effective. They can continue to call for line until Tech Day (2 weeks out for a straight play; 3 for a musical). After that, the cast must "save" anyone who goes up on a line. Better to get used to ad libbing before there's an audience there.

Understudies (or Swings) helps a ton, too, since they can both jump in as needed to keep the rehearsals going, and hopefully set the bar so high that the original cast member can tell they could be at risk of demotion.  Do swap in those understudies regularly so they can keep up to speed (and it's useful for the actors to watch others do their role, to see what it looks like to the audience).

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Douglas Rome
Director of Theatre Arts
Fairfax County Public Schools
Burke VA
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13.  RE: Spring Auditions for Fall Play?

Posted 7 days ago
Some years ago, our school had an English teacher who helped our troupe by directing an abridged Shakespeare production every year.  She cut the scripts to about 75 minutes.  Because she spent much of her academic year besieged by essay grading, she wanted to do her shows as close to the beginning of the school year as possible.  She developed a cycle where she held auditions in early May.  The freshmen, sophomores and juniors relished the chance to try out for a show without competition from the seniors.  After casting the show, she did some table work and even roughed out blocking before school got out for the summer, but she didn't necessarily hold rehearsals every day in May.  Students were told to return from summer vacation off-book, at which time she cleaned up the blocking, got into run-throughs, and usually had the show done by early or mid-September.

There's a side note to this story.  One year this teacher cast a boy whose parents took him to Iran for almost the entire summer to visit relatives.  He conscientiously took his script with him so he could learn his lines.  Upon their arrival in Iran, however, customs officials confiscated the script as decadent Western literature that could not be allowed into the country.  The teacher told us that was the Best Excuse Ever for not having one's lines learned on time!

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Jeff Grove
Theatre Teacher, Aesthetics Department Chair
Stanton College Preparatory School
Jacksonville FL
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14.  RE: Spring Auditions for Fall Play?

Posted 5 days ago

Thank you all for this wonderful feedback! Like a few others, my concern was alienating the freshmen. Luckily, I'm also the speech coach, and I REALLY push freshmen to do that and then I pull them into the drama program as well. 

I really like the idea of casting the main characters in the Spring and then casting the ensemble/crowds in the fall. That would also allow me to do a bigger cast again next year. This year I picked a play with only 13 actors and had 25 try out. That was a hard day, putting up the cast list.The previous two plays I directed had huge casts and it was IMPOSSIBLE to get everyone to rehearsals when they were called. Some scenes in last year's play didn't have all actors on stage until tech week! I was juggling memorizing, blocking, crowd scenes, all in a very short time frame. Spring auditions would open that up more for me.

And allowing 8th graders to audition would be great experience for them, even if they don't make it. I could make it like a practice audition for them.

Thank you so much!!! 



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Paige Junge
ELA Teacher, Speech Coach, Thespian Director
Marion IA
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15.  RE: Spring Auditions for Fall Play?

Posted 2 days ago
We do this.  We send the info to the middle schools 2-3 weeks in advance and have them come to the HS for their audition.  It has taken a couple of years to get it going, but we now have several freshmen audition every year, and even more who get involved with running crew.  If you try it, don't be surprised if you only get 3-5 freshmen who audition the first year.  It will grow!

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Laura Steenson
Theatre Director
Reynolds High School
Troutdale OR
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