Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sorry-Grateful, Regretful-Happy

Posted by Bruce Miller
We are both excited and overwhelmed by the huge response we've received to this Saturday's (October 1) Open Call. Over 290 adult actors have called to register for auditions. Our previous record, or at least the largest number of adult actors any of us can remember at a previous Barksdale audition, was 110. The norm is 40 to 60.

We were prepared for about 120 interested actors. We were not prepared for this wonderful response. WE APOLOGIZE. This will be our first Open Call in our new audition process. We will learn from this experience. We will do better next time.

As of yesterday morning, Katie Monfet, our WONDERFUL intern who is handling all registration requests, had registered 136 auditionees (representing about 400 phone conversations), and was still in the process of registering the remaining 155 actors who had called and left a message, but had yet to connect person-to-person with Katie.

It remains our intention to see ALL actors who are interested in auditioning. We will schedule additional auditions to ensure that we meet that goal.

We have heard from tens of actors who are growing increasingly angry and frustrated, who have called back repeatedly to schedule a time for their audition, only to be sent to voicemail because Katie is on the phone with another actor. We understand, appreciate and regret your negative reactions. We are doing, and will continue to do, all we can to address and correct the situation.

Please know that Katie is working very hard to keep up with the calls. She is in no way at fault. It is my inadequate planning that has caused these problems. Please direct all your frustration at me. In the future, after our three-open-calls per year system is fully in place, I anticipate we will not face numbers this large.

If you are registered, you have been given a one-hour time slot during which your audition will take place. We are registering 30 actors in each hour. We know there will be some no shows. Your prepared audition should not exceed 120 seconds total.

Please arrive at the Empire no later than 15 minutes prior to your appointed hour. If you are able, please bring seven resumes and headshots. If you don't have seven copies (if you don't have one copy), don't panic. It's not a deal breaker.

Some of you will undoubtedly feel swept in and swept out. It is not our intention to disrespect anyone. It is our intention to keep things moving efficiently so as to be able to see all interested actors. Casting will happen principally in callbacks.

We will be feeding directors both breakfast and lunch, and you may notice directors eating during your audition. Again, we mean no disrespect to either actor or director.

If a director is in the restroom during your audition, Chase Kniffen and I will take special notice of all auditionees who demonstrate talent and meet the needs of the play. For example, if Bo Wilson is in the restroom during your audition, and you fit the character descriptions for God of Carnage (which Bo is directing), and you're talented, we will be sure that Bo includes you in his callbacks for God of Carnage.

In 2012 and beyond, we will have Open Calls in January, May and September. It is our intention to cast all roles approximately six months in advance. We ask all locally-based actors to participate in at least one open call each year.

Thank you for your interest. Thank you for your understanding as we embark on a new way of doing things. I apologize for planning poorly for this Open Call. I will do my utmost to make things better in the future. In January and May, we will include fewer shows in each audition, assign more staff members to man the phones to take your calls, schedule only 15 actors per hour (our original plan) instead of 30, and build in breaks for the directors.

I invite and will welcome your additional suggestions and comments as we try to strengthen our audition practices as Greater Richmond's resident, nonprofit, professional theatre.

--Bruce Miller

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