On your eastern swing, how many people did you audition?
Vaughn: We met with 400+ people in 3 locations: Chicago, Otterbein University in Ohio and New York City. The LA area is similar with auditions in Irvine and LA, including folks from PCPA (Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts) in Santa Maria.
Do you audition for specific roles or general talent?
Vaughn: We have them audition for the company. When it’s someone we don’t know, we ask for two monologues: a contemporary monologue and a classical monologue - it has to be Shakespeare and it has to be in verse. And if they sing, they can sing as well.
Can you describe the process?
Ivers: Each day is 9am - 5pm, with 5 minute time slots. We do video call-backs because our schedule is so tight, we really don’t have time for call-backs in each city.
Vaughn: Because we are an Equity (Actor’s Equity Association - the union representing actors) theatre, we’re bound by certain rules.
Ivers: There are 3 scenarios we’re required to do: a local Equity Principal Audition (EPA), an EPA within our western region, so we do that in Los Angeles (including Irvine), and we have to choose another region - either Chicago or NY. Because we do a musical, we have to have a dramatic EPA day, a musical EPA day and then we have to do a dance call.
Vaughn: When it’s an Equity call, we have no time to stop. They’re in a 4 minute block and we can’t go over time. If it’s a dramatic EPA, we can’t ask them to sing. If it’s a musical EPA then they’re allowed to sing. There are union rules that we have to adhere to, depending on each call.
Ivers: Sometimes we’ll connect with company members from last season. We’ll have them come in to audition; their time slot will be used for something specific for the 2013 season - i.e. we might have them read for Peter and the Starcatcher. That we extend to either actors we know really well or actors that have been part of our company.
Then we have a special day of invites which are people who’ve submitted to us. It’s a general audition.
What are the pluses and minuses of the process?
Ivers: There’s nothing really tough about it. I get great enjoyment out of it because you know that any moment someone could walk into the room and solve a big problem. I find it a really engaging process. The time goes pretty quick. Even though it’s a really long day and we’re on - we’re trying to be kind and keep a room that is light and trustful and open...it usually doesn’t hit me til about 5pm when we’re walking back to the hotel.
Vaughn: I also like that you start to see similar faces year after year. Sometimes there’s a great person who’s just not right this year. Then they come the next year and you realize “you are perfect for this year.”
Ivers: We tend to saturate as much as we can - do auditions and then go to see shows. It’s a full day of work. It is so exciting and inspiring to see good theatre and it’s equally inspiring to see “we’re on par”...it’s rejuvenating. Both are a vital part of what we do. We need to know what’s out there, know the plays that are out there, the actors that are out there, know why a certain set of actors are working and why a certain set that aren’t.
Vaughn: It’s great too because we can spend a whole day auditioning, see a show that night and then meet up with friends who are in the show and start discussing the auditions and they’re say “Wow, I totally forgot about this person who might be right for your season. Can I get them into your day?” and you see them, it’s an epiphany. It only happened because you were there at that time. We have cast people in that scenario every now and then. It does set the barometer of where we are on the national trend, being out there.
So now we wait until the decisions are made, contracts negotiated and signed to know who will be in our company come May. We’ll let you know as soon as we know! Leave your questions for Brian and David here.
You can learn more about the plays for our 2013 season and purchase tickets at www.bard.org