In educational theatre, the atmosphere of auditions can set the tone for the entire production process. That’s why it’s in the teacher-director’s best interest to conduct auditions for their production in a professional manner.
This is an outline that you can use help auditions run smoothly; adjustments can (and probably should!) be made for your particular school. I have included several examples from different productions.
Advertise the Auditions:
No matter how many posters are hung, announcements are given, or digital messages are communicated, there are always students who have no idea that there are auditions happening. In addition to posters and announcements, try to get the word out in an unorthodox way, so that every student in school knows about the auditions and the audition meeting.
Have an Audition Meeting:
One to two weeks before the auditions, hold a meeting.
Items to Cover in the Meeting:
- Information about the production (EXAMPLE: Grease General Information)
- Requirements for participation
- Introductions of the production staff
- How the auditions will be run – (see Open vs. Closed Auditions)
- What the students will be asked to do during the audition; sing, dance, act, improvise –This will vary according to the type of production. (Audition Instructions)
- The sign-up process
- The audition form (SAMPLE Audition Form) – review the items on the form!
- A question and answer session with older students – the underclassmen usually take their advice seriously
- Introduce/teach the songs that they will be singing during auditions if you’ve selected specific numbers
- Time to sign-up (SAMPLE Audition Sign Up)
If you have expectations about the students’ preparation or presentation for the auditions, make sure you communicate them! For example, if you expect the students to stay in the auditorium or waiting room after their individual auditions, rather than leaving, they need to know.
The day after the meeting, post sign-up sheets (SAMPLE Audition Signup) for auditions in central and supervised locations: the office, the library, the chorus room. Audition forms, instructions, and other useful materials (EXAMPLE: Grease Characters) should also be available near the sign-up sheets. Collect them a few days before auditions, but let students know who to contact if they need slots.
Set the Audition Order:
Use the sign-up sheets to randomize an order: after putting the students’ names into a spreadsheet column, you can use the “Random Number” generator function to reorder the list. Getting a few confident upperclassmen to “volunteer” for the first couple of slots may help settle the nerves of the other students. About two days before auditions, post the audition order (SAMPLE Audition Order). If there are students who want to sign up after that, they will have to see the stage manager or the director.
(N.B. You may want to distribute the audition order list to the faculty so that they can give you a “heads up” on any special needs or concerns they have about students ahead of time. Encourage faculty members to give words of support to their students who are heading for an audition; it helps to have the whole school community invested in your program.)
Prepare for the auditions:
Create sheets for audition notes (Audition Notes) – these can be as simple or as specific as need dictates. Make sure that the audition space is set up properly. Make sure that there is enough help available for crowd control, paperwork, music, etc.
Have extra audition forms available. The students will be nervous; the best way to assuage this is to run the auditions as efficiently as possible, with understanding and appreciation of their stress. Try to make the students feel comfortable, so they can give their best audition. After the auditions are finished, tell the students when the callback list or cast list will be posted, and where.
If you need to hold callbacks, post the callback list the day after auditions and hold the callbacks quickly. If not, post the cast list as soon as all the decisions are made. Here’s an alternative to the public posting of the cast list and its subsequent crowds and drama in the hallway.