Stages of the audition process: a thrilling experience


by Aria Wong


The actors stood outside the auditorium chatting about the audition that would begin in just a few minutes. Standing amongst them was a small, brunette sophomore girl nervously smiling and fidgeting with her hands. Her name was Haley Barnes and she felt, among other things, a kind of anxious energy that only an audition can bring.

“It’s both terrifying and the funnest thing you’ll ever do,” Barnes said. “You’re both scared out of your mind, but more excited than you’ve ever been in a long time.”

Barnes auditioned for the “Triple”, meaning she tried out for the spring play, Emerson Festival piece and States Play Festival piece all at once. According to Barnes, the directors cast a student not only into a specific play, but also into a specific role based on the one audition. Not everyone is guaranteed a spot.

Heads turned as students began to file into a small back room. They were handed sheets of paper which asked basic questions about availability and contact information. Once completed, Barnes and her peers poured into the auditorium and awaited the directors.

According to Barnes, after the directors entered, the audition itself began. The large group of candidates split into two sections. Barnes’ section then split again, this time into pairs. Each pair was given about half a page of lines to practice and perform, she said.

Barnes pulled her partner aside and they quickly began to run through the lines. Twenty minutes later it was time to perform, and the two groups came together once again. Barnes said the first section performed improv scenes. As Barnes watched the scenes, she worried about her performance.

The other performances flew by and suddenly it was her turn. She stood and walked on the stage, then turned to face the crowd.

“You get really comfortable when you’re on the stage when you’ve done a whole bunch of shows,” she said. “I felt calmer on stage then off it.”

When her performance was over, Barnes walked back to her seat. She then waited through the rest of the performances. Barnes said the pool of candidates was much larger this year than last, which made the audition longer.

Barnes’ section then switched activities, dividing into small subgroups of a few students to practice an improv scene. The group talked about what they wanted to do and ran through the scene about five times.

“This time I was doing a horror scene, which was not exactly easy, but we made it work,” she said.

Barnes then went up on stage again to perform.

According to Junior Nathan Kyn, the peer performance element does not add to the stress of auditioning.

“It’s pretty low pressure. Everyone watches you, but everyone enjoys watching it, so it’s fine,” Kyn said.

Barnes agreed that the buildup to an audition is more nerve racking than the performance itself. In the moment, she finds excitement in showcasing her talent. Barnes said it is very important to stay calm and composed while acting.

“It’s a lot of breathing exercises and a lot of focusing and just like ‘you’re okay, you’re going to get through this’, repeating that a lot,” Barnes said.

Every audition is different, but all are linked by the uniquely exhilarating experience of performing on stage. According to sophomore Sarah Rumshiskaya, a positive attitude and confidence can make all the difference.

“They’re kind of nerve-racking but you just have to go into them happy,” Rumshiskaya said. “I’m always nervous up until I’m on stage. You’re not really yourself when you perform, you’re the person you’re acting as.”

Barnes was cast in the States play. She reflected on the entire auditioning experience positively.

“I think it’s a lot of fun. It’s really stressful, but it’s a lot of fun,” Barnes said. “It’s terrifying in a good way.”

Aria Wong can be contacted at [email protected]