Ever wonder if you have what it takes to be an actor?
The St. Luke’s Players are holding auditions for their upcoming productions, starting this Friday and Saturday with A Murder is Announced, a murder mystery adapted from the 1950 Agatha Christie novel. Unlike other community theatre groups, St. Luke’s holds open auditions, meaning everyone reads in a group setting all at once.
“It’s not as intimidating as it might be if you’re in a room by yourself with three people behind a desk listening to you,” said Dave Hitchcock, who’s co-directing St. Luke’s winter production of Aladdin.
“I always say that the auditions are the most important part of the play production process. If you get a good crowd of people to select from, the rest of the process goes really smoothly.”
But, while reading as a group may be more relaxing, there’s a catch: St. Luke’s does cold readings.
“The people who come along don’t know what section they’re going to be reading,” said Neville Owen, a member at large of the St. Luke’s Players executive. “The first ones to read are at a bit of a disadvantage, and all the others listening may express it differently. The director knows that and bears that in mind.”
“As an actor, it’s a little bit daunting and you have to prepare by reading the script and doing some research into the play,” said Janine Longy, also a member at large on the executive. “Then you come to the audition and you never know what part you’re going to read, so you have to think about what happened before in the play, how to relate to the character.”
Nonetheless, St. Luke’s offers the stage to actors of all experience levels, which Longy says helps to alleviate some stage fright during the audition process.
“The culture here is to welcome newcomers, whether it be acting, costumes, props, set design, directing,” she said. “It’s a very warm community, it’s like a family.”
The auditions are overseen by directors, stage managers and musical directors for each of St. Luke’s four seasonal performances, with two two-hour open auditions and callbacks in case they need a bit more time to narrow down their cast.
Of course, a show like St. Luke’s annual pantomime doesn’t have as many issues in picking and choosing cast members – there are usually a lot of roles.
“The panto typically has a wider range of ages in the cast,” said Hitchcock. “We go from 10-year-olds up to no upper limit.”
Hitchcock said that newcomers shouldn’t be worried if they’re auditioning against more seasoned actors, as it’s not always the most experienced people who get the parts.
“That’s particularly true of the panto, where we get a lot of young kids, many of whom have not been in anything on the stage,” he said. “They come with a tremendous variety of experience.”
And if you don’t make the cut this time around, Hitchcock said there are always other St. Luke’s productions to try out for.
Auditions for A Murder is Announced are Friday, Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 13 at 2 p.m. at St. Luke’s Hall, 3821 Cedar Hill X Rd., with callbacks scheduled for Monday, Aug. 15. No appointment is necessary, but prospective actors are asked to show up on time for the sessions and to fill out the audition form, which can be downloaded from stlukesplayers.org.
Copies of the script for A Murder is Announced can be picked up from the Oak Bay Flower Shop, 102-2187 Oak Bay Ave.