Notes from the Forest: Auditions, Auditions, Auditions!

Every week, A.B.L.E. teaching artist Emma MacLean takes you behind the scenes for our teen ensembles’ spring production, As You Like It. Click here to catch up on our past installments, and read on to find out about Week 6 of rehearsals.

I won’t lie to you, auditions have never been my favorite part of being an actor. They make me outrageously nervous, and therefore forgetful - more than once I have walked into an audition and then completely forgotten the monologue I prepared. But I love A.B.L.E. auditions. Every speech is followed by applause; ensemble members are so supportive of each other while they get up and rock their scene.

If you’ve never been to an A.B.L.E audition, let me let you in on the process. This class starts the way that they all do. A dance party, warm up, review of our ensemble contract and schedule,  and then for check in we talk about what we are most excited about for the show. After 5 weeks of working on this play, it is interesting to hear what has stuck out for people. Some actors want to play the mean Duke Senior, some are excited to try their hands at puppetry, and others want the challenge of a Shakespearean monologue. We played a quick game of “Here to There” to review our characters. In this game, we walk back and forth as different characters, it is a fun way to get into our bodies before the auditions have even started.

Then each actor gets to perform three different “sides” or lines from their top 3 characters. These are the characters that they have been most drawn to throughout the rehearsal process thus far. This year, in addition to speeches, some actors opted for their third to audition as a puppeteer. This means that they acted out a small scene for the group with the Charles, Oliver, Orlando, or lion puppets. Actors also get to pick who is dropping them in. There’s no worry about forgetting lines at an A.B.L.E. audition. For our scenework and for the final performance, each actor is partnered with a facilitator who drops in their lines. The actors can repeat back with their own flourish and personality. This way, actors can focus on all the fun of performing, without stressing about what to say and where to go next. love getting to see everyone’s range and interests when it comes to the play, and also the supportive working relationships that have formed between our ensemble and teaching team.

Auditioning 10 people each performing 3 speeches can take a long time, so we have a quick shake out in between each round of auditions. Then if there is extra time at the end, we might have some fun with puppets! (Can you tell we are really excited about puppets? Have I mentioned that?) Ultimately the actors in this show, as Jacques put it, will “play many parts”. Each actor will be cast as multiple characters, taking a crack at different parts in different scenes. We’ll have 9 different Rosalinds, 6 Orlandos, and so many more!

If this is getting you ready to see the show, then great news: tickets just went on sale! Come see As You Like It on May 20th at 7pm at Chicago Shakespeare Theater!

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