In announcing the Summit Playhouse’s auditions for their winter show (“God of Carnage” Feb. 22 – Mar. 9), Director Chase Newhart is using a new concept – which is also an old concept. As all Equity members know, auditioning Actors are given their “sides”, or the scene sections they will be reading, in advance.
However, that has not been the norm in Community Theater. In most situations, the selected audition scenes are given to them when they arrive at the audition. Often there are very good reasons for this in the volunteer world of Community Theater.
Sometimes it’s difficult for the Directors to prep the auditions in as much detail as they would like – or sometimes the producing Theater may not have the opportunity to make copies of the material until the day of the audition. In the case of the upcoming “God of Carnage” auditions (held at the Summit Playhouse at 7 PM on Nov. 14 & 15), Director Chase Newhart and the Summit Playhouse have been able to decide and also provide the audition scenes more than a month in advance.
The result? A number of Actors have contacted this Director and Theater with their reaction and the initial reviews are very positive. The hope of all involved is that providing this information in advance will make for a better audition experience. The Summit Playhouse hopes that a relaxed atmosphere will engender extraordinary creativity on the part of everyone auditioning. Seeing the Actors at their best is in the interest of the Director judging the auditions as well.
Although Chase is quick to point out he doesn’t want anyone memorizing anything. He just wants to provide as much information in advance as possible for each Actor to use in their own process. Whether or not this concept is duplicated at other Community Theaters going forward will naturally depend on a number of variables, but here’s a summation of the information that the Summit Playhouse has made available on their website (summitplayhouse.org):
All the following sides are from the Dramatist Play Service edition of “God of Carnage” by Yasmina Reza. You may audition for one or two characters.
All actors are asked to be familiar with the play but not to memorize anything.
One scene will be used to audition everyone:
The scene that begins on P. 13 with Annette’s “I see you’re a great art lover” and ends on P. 16 with Alan’s “…Don’t make any statement…”
Some Actors will also read the scene that begins on P. 26 with Michael’s “I don’t appreciate your cynicism” and ends on P. 28 with Alan’s “Come on now, come on”.
At Call Backs (Nov. 18th):
Actors will read the above two scenes and these four additional scenes:
P. 6 Veronica’s “You know, he didn’t want to identify Benjamin.” to P. 8 Annette’s “Just some water”;
P. 28 Michael’s “Let me tell you something” to P. 30 Michael’s “I don’t think she needs any”;
P. 38 Michael’s “We’ll have to wait a minute…” to P. 39 Veronica’s “Do I have to listen to this fatuous nonsense?”;
P. 43 Michael’s “This yours?” to P. 44 Michael’s “What do we know.” and ends on P. 28 with Alan’s “Come on now, come on”.
Director’s Character Descriptions:
Veronica (40s – Michael’s wife): A writer – she pictures herself as the queen of social conscience and common courtesy – but is really judgemental and domineering. As the situation disintegrates she fails to maintain her crumbling façade of civility.
Michael (40/50s – Veronica’s husband): Initially eager to create peace, his uncouth nature is slowly revealed. He makes racial comments, denounces child-raising, and progresses from a seemingly good-natured hardware store supplier/salesperson to a neurotic Neanderthal.
Annette (40s – Alan’s wife): At first presenting herself as an elite member of the one percent, she is actually on the brink of a panic attack. Her self-confidence has been eroded by her husband Alan’s eternal preoccupation with work.
Alan (40/50s – Annette’s husband): An openly rude corporate lawyer, he frequently interrupts their meeting by talking on his cell phone. As he says “I have no manners”. At first seen as cool and aloof, he is sexist and always acts in his own self-interest.
A non-profit community theater 10 New England Avenue, Summit, NJ 07901 908-273-2192