Ah, the stress of waiting for the announcement of parts for the school play! Or the stress of being a teacher-director trying to post the cast list without being swarmed by students!  

I have a “high school cast list” memory of a fellow aspiring lead confronting me in the hallway outside the chorus room, bitterly spitting out the part I had received and “robbing me” (I know it sounds a bit dramatic, but I was a theatre kid) of the pleasure of being able to read the fact for myself. As a production team member, I’ve also witnessed a throng of students crowding around the office window, screaming with delight or pain. Frankly, it’s as stressful for the faculty members as it is for the hopeful cast member.

The posting of a cast list brings excitement, fear, and occasionally embarrassment to the students involved in a theatre program.  The public nature of posting is unavoidable, and a cast list should be posted so that students can receive congratulations.  But there is a way to let the students who auditioned know their status before any other student knows.

Deliver envelopes with casting information to the students who auditioned via their teachers.

Add a space on your audition sheet for students to write their homeroom teacher’s name (or possibly their last period teacher’s name, if you decide that an end-of-day announcement will be more effective).  After casting decisions have been made, create a spreadsheet with the student’s names and homerooms.  Leave a column for their role in bold type.  Make a mail merge letter and put the student’s name and role in the appropriate places.

Here’s a SAMPLE of what the letter might look like.

If you had to cut some hopefuls, there will need to be a separate letter for those who didn’t make it – it can also be done by a mail merge. Other items necessary for cast members should be included in the envelope, such as rehearsal schedules and production contracts.

Deliver the letters to teachers’ mailboxes either the day before or early the morning of the announcement.  You might want to include a note to the teacher explaining what’s in the envelope and/or email the faculty to give them a heads-up. (You might want to suggest that the teachers hand out the envelopes during/after morning announcements, rather than putting them on the students’ desks in advance of their arrival; that way, kids won’t venture out into the hall in search of their friends’ results.)

Because the students who auditioned can have a private moment to read their letters, much of the spectacle will be diminished.  The cast list can be posted at lunchtime or after homeroom, and then everyone can find out who was cast.

In Temporary Stages II, Jo Beth Gonzalez describes a similar method of announcing production casts. But in keeping with her philosophy of theatre education, Gonzalez gives each student an evaluation form with feedback on her audition in addition to a letter indicating her role (if she was cast) or if she didn’t make the cast. An effort like this would take a lot of dedication and time, but Gonzalez believes it provides educational advantages over the traditional method.