Tuesday, August 18, 2009

NYC Auditions - "Boleros for the Disenchanted"

Posted by Bruce Miller
Last Thursday and Friday, Phil and I conducted two days of auditions in NYC for our upcoming production of Boleros for the Disenchanted, the wonderful new play by Oscar-nominated writer Jose Rivera (pictured to the left). We will be producing Boleros this fall in association with the Latin Ballet of Virginia.

We flew up on Wednesday on our much-loved JetBlue—the Official Airline of Barksdale Theatre and Theatre IV. If you haven’t flown JetBlue to New York’s JFK lately, you really should consider giving it a try. With roundtrip tickets for only $64, more legroom than any other US carrier, 36 channels of DIRECTV (still free), 100 channels of XM Satellite Radio (also still free), no baggage charge on your first piece of luggage, and delicious beverage and snack service (again, still free) … what’s holding you back?

All right, enough with the commercial.

We saw a total of 92 actors (mostly Latino) for the six actor cast. We auditioned AEA actors at the Equity Studios on Thursday (see sign above and to the right), and non-AEA actors at Ripley-Grier Studios on Friday (pictured in photos to the left). Many thanks to Scott and Lisa, our wonderful audition monitors.

Boleros kicks off our three-year Hispanic Theatre Project. We will be producing one play during each of the next three seasons that directly relates to Hispanic culture. Act I of Boleros takes place in Rivera's homeland, Puerto Rico. I’m eager to find Latino actors who effectively connect with the characters in the play.

Federal employment law forbids asking a potential employee about his or her ethnicity. The statement I was allowed to make, according to our attorney, was this: “Discuss with me any connections you may have with Latino culture.”

Responses varied from “I spent the first 18 years of my life in Puerto Rico” to “I haven’t missed a Cinco de Mayo celebration since I was 13” to “I sent out my famous paella recipe with last year’s Christmas cards.”

Phil and I saw some terrific actors. I am hoping to complete reference checks tomorrow and begin making offers. My goal is to assemble the most talented and authentically Latino cast that Richmond has ever seen. If luck is with us, I believe I’ll do just that.

Hope to see you at the theatre when Boleros opens on Sept 18. We're very excited about having the opportunity to introduce you to this wonderful and important new play.

--Bruce Miller


Anonymous said...

So an actor that lived in Puerto Rico is better than one from some other country that connects with the problems of the characters?

It seems like you just barely found a loophole around a legitimate law to discriminate against potentially fine actors that have not lived in Puerto Rico.

Bruce Miller said...

Dear Anonymous,

You are entitled to your opinion.

What I said was, "I'm eager to find Latino actors who effectively connect with the characters in the play." I'm sorry you disagree.

The play concerns Latino experience. I believe our production will be better served if we assemble a cast of actors familiar with Latino experience.

Living in Puerto Rico is not a litmus test for me. Having a connection to Latino culture is.

I was not seeking nor do I believe I found a "loophole."