Casting for theatre is not the same as casting for film. Theatre and film acting (and training) are quite different and although many actors can do both it is best understand the different requirement of each medium. This week we will deal specifically with Theatre Casting.
Theatre is a live medium and there are no second takes. Actors need to have the ability to retain more lines than are usually required for film because film is shot one scene at a time, where as in theatre the performer must memorized the script in its entirety, not just scene by scene. Theatre actors also require the ability to improvise and “just go with it” in the event things don’t go as planned (missed cue, forgotten line, missing props, wardrobe malfunctions). There is alway the factor of unpredictability in any live performance, but that’s part of the excitement!
Stage presence is a major factor when casting theatre. Film can make tiny things larger than life. Theatre has a tendency to shrink things, so performers have to adjust to fit the sized of the theatre. Vocal projection and stamina also become a factor in the theatre.
Here are a few tips for when you are prepping to post a casting notice for a low/no budget production:
1) CAST LIST – Make a clear cast list. Are there any minor roles that can be doubled up by performers? Try an keep things as simple an concise as possible, doubling up roles can keep the cast small (easier for coordinating schedules, less people to pay).
2) CHARACTER BREAKDOWNS – Write a couple of short sentences describing each character: gender, age range, skills required (singing, dance, physical training, accent, nudity, etc…) and other other information the actor should know about the role.
3) LOGLINE & SYNOPSIS – You will need this for many different aspects of the production, make sure you take the time to make sure these are solid. Actors will want to have an idea of the story, genre and nature of the project before the commit to come audition.
4) REHEARSAL & PERFORMANCE DATES – Theatre has a set schedule of rehearsal and performance dates and things generally do not get moved around the way they do in a film schedule (where the schedule can change once shooting has begun). Make sure you have all your rehearsal and performance dates locked down prior to casting. Theatre requires a much bigger time commitment from performers and you want to be certain that you can coordinate all schedules prior to casting. One of the factor when casting will be finding the right cast who can work with your dates.
5) AUDITIONS – Always hold auditions in a public location (even if you intend to do some rehearsals in your living room). Be realistic when scheduling time slots, if they are doing 2 contrasting monologues and a song 5 minutes might not be enough and you don’t want to auditions to get backed up. Ideally the Writer, Director, Producer and Stage Manager will be at the auditions. Provide a sign in sheet and have the stage manager in the hall greeting and signing in actors. Make several copies of the sides and bring them with you, clearly mark sides for each character. Be clear if you want hard copies of headshots, so much casting is digital now so hard copies aren’t an automatic anymore. Some people won’t show up, you don’t want to work with those people anyway. Enjoy the process…You are one step closer to breathing life into your production!
Stay tuned for our tips on Film Casting in next week’s post.