Thomsen Talk: February 2018
Without a doubt the hardest part of directing for me is casting. When I was in high school, a director said, “80% of good directing is good casting.” After a show, a comment I hear frequently is “the show was so well-cast. Everyone was perfect for their part.” I like hearing that. It feels like validation for the choices I made seven weeks ago. I take casting very seriously, and it often hurts.
You see, in a community theatre setting, I often know the people who come in and audition. I may have worked with them in another show, they may be friends of mine. There is the case where I know someone wants a particular role very badly or another case where I know a person has auditioned several times before and hasn’t been cast yet. There are so many personal and emotional circumstances that I could take into consideration, but at the end of the day, I have to select individuals that fit the role in the production I have envisioned.
A few months ago, I gave a talk in the theatre class at John Wood Community College. When it came to the Q&A portion, I asked if they wanted to know about some of the difficult decisions a director has to make. A student then asked, “What are some of those decisions,” and then I asked, “What do you think they could be?” One said picking a season, and another said casting. In our discussion on casting, I asked, “Why do you think casting is so difficult,” and a student responded, “Because it’s not apples to apples. There are so many things you have to consider.” She is so wise. That’s exactly it.
Here are some of the questions I ask myself:
- Will this person work well with others, including the cast and production team?
- Will this person have chemistry with the other actors?
- Will this person grow throughout this process and be creative in rehearsals?
- Sometimes in one show a person has to be able to play multiple characters. Will the actor be convincing in all of the assigned roles?
- Does this person find himself/herself within the character?
- Can the person hit the necessary musical notes?
- Do we have different types of people represented onstage for visual variety?
- Can this person attend the needed rehearsals?
Here’s the part people might not guess: an auditionee’s involvement doesn’t end in the audition room. Every person who auditions shares in the success of the final production. They were a part of the process. Hearing for the first time people read the script out loud or sing the songs illuminates the story for me; their excitement for the piece fuels my excitement. No matter what happens, I promise to do my best to shape the production into the show that spoke to them and inspired them to audition.
I will always do my best to make them proud.