Auditioning Techniques, by Christopher Blair

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Does auditioning make you nervous?  Me, too.  I always imagine my auditions feeling like this…

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     But they usually make me feel like this…
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     I’ve always found it fascinating that actors willingly walk into a room full of strangers to bare their souls offering it up to be critiqued and assessed, when most people would run from situations like these.   But it’s what you’ve got to do if you want to get the part.  So we muster up our courage, get up there and show ‘em what we’ve got!
     I’ve been doing theatre for approximately 4,000 years and I’ve learned a few things along the way.  So, if you’re someone like me who would rather clean Shrek’s outhouse than audition, here’s a few tips I have to share.
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Relax
     Easier said than done.  Everyone accomplishes this difficult task differently.  Personally, I like deep breathing.  Others might like exercise, or imagining everyone in the room wearing chicken costumes.  Just do what works for you.  Most theatre classes, including those at SCT, teach relaxation techniques to help you prepare for the stress of live performances.  But no matter how worked up we get, the truth is that the world will not end if you blow your high note or you miss a dance step, so do yourself a favor and relax.  Being relaxed encourages self-confidence.  Self-confidence inspires others to be confident in you.
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Make Yourself Comfortable
     Wear something that allows you to move.  If you know that there will be a dance audition, it might be a good idea to show up in loose-fitting pants or leggings rather than jeans.  Just make sure that you still look pleasant and professional, not like you’ve just come running in all sweaty from the gym.
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Do Your Homework
     Find out everything you can about the show for which you auditioning.  If the show has been adapted into a film, watch it.  If it has a cast recording, listen to it.  If the script is available for purchase, read it.  Use the internet!  There is no such thing as having too much information.  This gets you familiar with the material, and gives you an idea of what roles might be right for you.
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Pretend it’s Opening Night
     If you hate auditioning but love performing, use the same energy that you would for a performance.  Pretend there’s an audience there to entertain, even if there’s only one or two people.  Use all the joy you find in performing during the audition.  This will give the casting team a much clearer idea of your abilities and who you are as a performer.  Light up the stage!
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    I don’t guarantee that using these techniques will always get you the part you want, but they will help make auditioning a less scary and stressful experience.  Each of our summer camps starts with an audition, so if you or your child is registered for camp, I hope you’ve found these tips helpful!    Remember that everyone on the casting team wants you to be your best.  We’re all rooting for you!  Oh, and there’s one more tip…
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Don’t Forget to Have Fun! 
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Putting it Together, by David I.L. Poole

 (Read the first part of my design process here!)

      So did my design of the ape costume meet approval?  Yes, it did!  Artistic Director Kelie Miley loved it!

     The next phase of design is the actual implementation, which is where things can become a little tricky.  Transferring the costume from a drawing to the finished product is a process called “draping.”  Draping is a method of dressmaking in which fabric is pinned and hung on a mannequin form in order to create a pattern.  This is usually done with inexpensive fabric, like muslin, so there is no real loss if a mistake occurs.  This process is done with much trial and error, and there may be many drapings depending on the complexities of the garment.  Once a pattern is determined from the draping, then more expensive materials can be cut and sewn into a finished costume.

Draping and pinning one of 28 ape costumes!

Draping and pinning one of 28 ape costumes!

      One of the exciting materials being used is coming all the way from Hawaii!  We ordered traditional Tahitian bark skirts in a variety of colors.  These will be deconstructed and sewn onto the edges of the ape costumes to give a full fur look without it using actual fur, which is very expensive, heavy, and difficult to maintain.   The Tahitian bark will be used on principal characters, while we are using raffia that has been painted and dyed to costume members of the ape ensemble.  With 28 apes to costume, we aren’t just talking about small quantities here; we’re talking loads and loads of material!

A sea of raffia!

A sea of raffia, divided into baskets for each performer.

     After settling on the designs for the apes, the director also asked that I design tropical flower costumes that could bloom on stage, and a hybrid butterfly/puppet costume for some of the featured dancers.  I love these opportunities to create fantastical creatures!  That is why I love to volunteer at the Savannah Children’s Theatre where I have a place to let my imagination soar.

     Thanks to our army of volunteers, including Karen Clark, Pam Edenfield, Chann Givens,  Bonnie Juengert, and Marcia Karp, we are making quick progress.  Main Stage productions are a team effort, and our volunteers are the best in town!  We talk and laugh, sew and hot glue.  Spending time with these creative, talented minds makes the work go by so quickly.

     If you haven’t reserved your seats yet for TARZAN, do it now! Tickets are available on our website, or by calling the box office at 912.238.9015.  The next post you’ll see from me will show the finished product.  But trust me, you’ll want to see it on stage and in action!