It is that time of year. You have finished up your fall show, and the holidays are approaching.
The plan now? Get your spring show cast before the holidays so you can rest easy!
We thought we would save you a little planning time and give you the questions we most often ask kids who are auditioning for shows. For us, this spring show is called One-Act Play, or OAP. This is THE competition of the year across Texas, so we get serious about this show and the casting process. If you ask these questions, you will be sure to get the best kids that will work hard for you.
Each year at this time, we gather the prospective OAP kids for an informational meeting. We explain how our audition process goes and tell them that they will be interviewed during their audition.
Want our tips on a fabulous audition? Read our blog post on Audition Dos and Don'ts here.
Here are the questions we always ask our prospective actors.
The first question we ask our kids is about grades. If you direct outside of Texas and aren't familiar with OAP, we are run by a no-pass-no-play rule, meaning if a kid fails they will not participate in the competition.
We want to make sure that kids are maintaining grades that are solid A’s and B’s. We get really nervous when we see a grade fall below 75. We check our kids grades online probably 2-3 times a week to make sure we are okay and that kids are not failing to turn in assignments.
Don’t rely on a kids answer if you just ask, “how are your grades?” They will try to tell you what you want to hear. Make sure that they understand that you have already looked at their history and that you will continually check their grades. No matter how awesome an actor is, if he can’t pass his classes, you can’t use him.
The next important question we ask is about availability.
Can they be at all rehearsals?
Do they drive?
What other activities are they involved in?
Are there any specific times that they cannot be in rehearsal?
Do they work?
If they do work, do they work to pay bills or for extra spending money?
This makes a difference. Some of this can be determined in a pre-audition form. You can always ask them face to face to ensure you're getting a straight answer. Make sure that you lay it all out for the kid so he can look at it with his parents and make sure he is available for all rehearsals.
Adaptability is another important one. Questions about size of roles are important.
Can this kid accept a smaller role for the good of the company?
Are they only interested in being the star?
This is a little trick I learned from my dad, who coached basketball for 45 years. When he wanted to know the real intentions and dedication of a player, he would ask: Would you rather ride the bench on varsity or get lots of playing time on the JV team?
The answer will tell you so much about this student.
It is important to us that kids understand that we will pick a show based on the good of the group and that we need kids that can adapt. There's no I in team!
Kids may be asked to play a smaller role than they had the year before. Can the kid handle that? Remember, there are no small parts only small actors.
Another question we ask our kids to be honest about is what they can bring to the table that other kids can’t?
What makes you stand out?
What qualities and traits do you have that should make us choose you?
We ask about their experience, talents that we may not know of, and talk about their physical traits. We expect kids to understand that although they may have lots of ability, some of these other questions are much more important to us.
Probably one of the most important things we will discuss with kids is coachability. If we have worked with them before, we will know this answer. If not, we will test during this discussion. We want to know if the kid can be thick-skinned.
Can he accept criticism?
Can he handle the fact that decisions are subjective?
Can he adapt and change?
And one of the last areas we cover with our kids is their parents.
Do their parents fully support the fact that they are a theatre kid?
Do they buy into the program?
Are they interested in being a member of our booster club?
Can they support us if we ask you to cut or dye your hair?
Will they trust us on language and subject matter in the play?
As you can imagine, a small-town Texas theatre program has its critics. We've had several kids bullied by their peers, siblings and even parents for being a theatre kid. While I'm more than happy to go to bat for a kid that loves the arts, I will absolutely not fight an ignorant parent for an entire show season. I'm too old for all that drama.
We must have kids who have parents that will support and trust us. We are going to do the right thing, but we need to know that we have parents behind us no matter what.
In the end, you can change up these questions any way you think necessary. The main points these questions are designed to answer are the kid's reliability, dedication and value to the program.
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