As invitations to audition for CAKE’s new production – ‘Hammering Near Glass’ – are set to be emailed, the team here at CAKE are taking a moment to reflect what it really means to ‘audition’, According to the Merriam Webster dictionary:
Definition of AUDITION
1: the power or sense of hearing
2: the act of hearing; especially : a critical hearing <an audition of new recordings>
3: a trial performance to appraise an entertainer’s merits
For the actor, it means having little more than a few minutes to convince a few people, often complete strangers, that you can turn yourself inside out to be what they need you to be.
If it is a well-known role – Lady Macbeth, Vladimir or Estragon, Willy Loman, Medea – then you have history, literature and probably experience to draw on. But what if it’s a new play? It will never have been performed before. The playwright may be unknown. The actor may not have seen the whole script. How does an actor get to grips with this challenge and then manage to impress in a ten-minute slot? Would any other job interview expect so much?
At CAKE Productions, where we favour new writing, enabling actors to make the most of their audition opportunity is something we take very seriously. We see audition not as a one-off event but as a process.
We take account of the actor’s first response to the expression of interest, we look at their CV, we study their showreels. Sometimes we invite them for a coffee and chat prior to the audition. How we get to know individual actors often varies depending on their response to us at each stage of the process.
The reason we place so much emphasis on process lies in a key definition of ‘audition’: the act of hearing. As the company auditioning the actors, our responsibility is to really ‘hear’ what the actor is saying to us at all stages. Whether an actor’s training is Meisner, Stanislavsky or Method is less important than if their response shows interest, responsiveness. curiosity – and potential!
At CAKE Productions, we listen for what’s beneath the performance anxiety and fear of rejection that is an occupational hazard for most actors. What is the actor really saying to us? That can vary from: ‘I think this is a great role and a great adventure’ to ‘This’ll do if nothing better paid comes up’.
We believe our emphasis on audition process is the right one, the one that gives actors the best chance to impress.
The rest is up to them. Break a leg!
Origin of AUDITION
Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin audition-, auditio, from audire
First Known Use: 1599