Private Auditions - They Read Scenes
So, Private Auditions were arranged by our casting director. This was held over two days.
The first day is people that she knows who she feels are right for the roles. This is basically the same as Equity Principal Auditions (EPAs): We are all sitting behind a table, there’s a pianist to play accompaniment, the actor comes in and sings a song, etc. The difference in our private auditions are that: 1) We have more time [5-15 minutes per person] and 2) Everyone has come with a prepared scene which they read.
That means we also have a reader! The reader is brought in by the casting director and is an aspiring movie actress. She reads all of the other lines for the scenes so the Actor has someone to react to.
Notice how none of the creative staff are doing anything? Even though the music director could play the piano, he doesn’t (we hire a pianist). Even though the director could read the scene, he doesn’t (we hire a reader).
This is so that we can all focus entirely on the performance as audience members.
And we do. This time, we can ask for more things, the director can ask them to read a scene differently (“Let’s try it with this adjustment: Your character has just decided to quit which is a huge relief, they feel free for the first time in years, now try it again”). And then, somehow, they do the scene again, and it’s better, and you think to yourself: Holy crap, there is no way I could do that.
And that’s when you realize: These are professional performers. They are in an entirely different universe than you and me, and it’s amazing.
And, because now everyone is doing the same scene - you see how they do it all differently! And this is really crazy, because you never in your life realized that this scene could accommodate so many different interpretations. And some of them are so not what you expected, or so creative in such fun ways, that you are just astonished.
And this is when you realize what an actor can bring to the role, and how, you the writer, has really just submitted, like, a pencil drawing of what the show is, a mere architectural blueprint, and now they are out there actually coloring it in with all sorts of emotion and reactions and, like, literally bringing it to life.
And, of course, some are not so great. Too straight, insufficiently creative, you can tell that they are not understanding the intent in the material and reacting in the same way. But then some are like, WOW, like really inhabiting the part.
And there I am, getting goosebumps and tearing up because it’s so good. And I am so embarrassed that I try and surreptitiously wipe them away without anyone noticing (and fooling no one, I bet).
And that’s what reading scenes are like.