||TIPS for Directors
Harmony's Call (WIP)
Aunt Polly's Demise
A Christmas Calamity
How to Spot a Great Actor
It's Audition Day and you're wondering how in the world you're ever going to choose lead characters out of the group before you. How can you pick between two people vying courageously for one part? How will you know which teen or young adult you can count on as a leader? Who will be faithful to line memorization and an encouragement to new actors? The decision rests with you--and your audition panel.
A few things stand out when it comes right down to choosing leads:
Start with what you know.
If this is your first year putting on a large-scale production, you won't have any previous testing ground to measure the actors against, but you can use what you know. In a school setting, you're already familiar with the students. You know who turns in homework on time, who memorizes easily, who is kind to younger students, who is comfortable giving speeches and class presentations. Use this knowledge in auditions. The same is true of youth groups. Use the awareness of what you've already observed in the auditioner's character and work ethic. Does he show up regularly? Can you count on him to step up when the need arises? Do others look up to him?
Look for that spark.
Look for standout quality in each of the actors. Who captures your immediate attention? He will be the one most likely to capture an audience's attention. Who smiles and seems relaxed during the audition process? That person will probably be the one who is most comfortable on stage.
Can you trust him?
A director must be able to trust the leads to hold everything together if for any reason things fall apart on stage. He must be dependable and easygoing with other actors. He should be able to give inspirational talks before a performance. If the director is called away for any reason, the leads should keep the rehearsal going and not miss a step.
Close your eyes and listen to the voices as they read lines. Who sounds exactly like the character you've pictured in your mind? Focus on the tones. Hear that actor's voice. Does it sound real? Does it work?
Will he do everything you ask?
My daughter and I take the auditioners through silly, sometimes zany pretending actions to see if the actors will do what we say when we say it--or if they are reluctant. Those who are reluctant in auditions will probably drag their feet when you initiate new ideas during practices.
If potential actors are stiff and unimaginative in auditions, they probably will be the same in the production. Learn to spot actors who are eager to do what you ask. I say, "You are a worm inching along the grass." The willing actor drops right down and wiggles across the floor, eager for that bug he can see in his imagination.
Look for imagination!
A play is a huge pretend--and kids are great at that skill. You will be teaching the actors how to walk in someone else's shoes, but the very basis of that is being able to pretend. Who in your group of auditioners can pretend the best? Take the kids through different pretending activities. Make them become a butterfly, a five year old, an 80 year old. Have a chair become a person, and they must converse with it. Have them do improv just so you can see them in real-time pretending.
If more than one person stands out in your mind as the lead character, ask yourself--Who is comfortable on stage? Who has the spark? Who can I trust completely? Who is doing everything I ask? Who sounds just right? Picture both people on stage. Run their voices back and forth in your mind. Eventually, one will win out, and you will know exactly who should be the lead.
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