ALL ABOUT AUDITIONS

This section is all about unified auditions, held on the first Monday of each camp session. Get answers to your audition questions, fill out your audition form, and use our tools & tips to prepare for the big day. Learn how to choose the perfect monologue for you and get to work usingthe same tools our actors use during table work: scansion, rhetoric, and word-for-word paraphrasing

I felt a lot better about the audition than I was expecting to — I thought I would be terrible, and then I wasn’t! Part of it was probably the collaborative, more personal nature, rather than just “stand in a line, say your piece, and shut up.” – 2016 Camper


All campers must complete the appropriate audition form before arriving for Orientation.

Get a good night’s sleep after arrival and orientation day, because first thing in the morning of your first full day of camp, we have auditions! You will strut your stuff for the audition committee in the morning, and cast lists should be posted before dinner that same day.

Fill out the appropriate audition form as early as possible.

Session 1 Audition Form

Session 2 Audition Form

We will also use the information from these forms and in the audition room to begin making casting decisions for the mid-session Showcase performance.

Choosing and Preparing your Monologue – Tools & Tips

 

Not sure where to start? Check out Shakespeare’s Monologues, an excellent resource for finding the perfect Shakespearean monologue for you.

Guidelines for choosing your monologue:
Monologues must be from an Early Modern play.

Here, the term “Early Modern” refers to plays written during the period roughly defined as being between 1580-1642. While that period includes Shakespeare and all of his plays, he wasn’t the only playwright of any value producing work during that time. Campers are welcome to choose audition monologues from plays written by any of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, like Christopher Marlowe, Ben Johnson, Thomas Middleton, Francis Beaumont, John Fletcher, Thomas Kyd, and Philip Massinger (just to name a few).

Monologues may be in either verse or prose, and must be between 10-15 lines long.

The line limit is non-negotiable.

  • Is your verse piece 8 lines long?
    • Find a new one.
  • Is it 20 lines long?
    • Cut it down, or find a new one.
  • Having a hard time figuring out if your prose monologue meets the length requirements?
    • Try setting it as “verse” by inserting line breaks every 10 syllables to get a general idea of the length.

The first step of preparing your monologue for performance is to scan the text. Scansion is the process by which we mark the stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of verse. You will have an opportunity to work with one of our camp counselors to review your scansion before the audition. Scansion is simply a tool to help you get to know your text better.

Verse is a form of writing that transforms words into dramatic poetry. Shakespeare’s verse has a special rhythm called iambic pentameter. An iamb consists of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. These two beats complete one foot in a line of verse. There are five feet in a regular iambic pentameter line, or ten total syllables.

How to Mark Scansion:

Foot: a vertical line between the feet:            |

Unstressed syllable: a curved u-like shape above the unstressed syllable:     ˘ 

Stressed syllable: a small vertical or slanted line above the stressed syllable:  / 

Caesura: two vertical lines:         ||

Caesuras are mid-line breaks which mark the end of a sentence or thought before the end of the line.

Examples: 

˘    /     ˘      /     ˘     /      ˘     /        ˘           /

He is | a dream|er; || let | us leave | him: || pass.

  ˘      /     ˘    /        ˘         /         ˘     /         ˘        /

Shall we| be sun|der’d? || Shall | we part,| sweet girl?

Irregularities:

You may find that some lines scan irregularly. Here are some variations that you might discover:

Trochees: A trochee is a foot composed of a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable. Words like beauty, error, vanish, and even Shakespeare are trochaic because we emphasize the first syllable in those words; BEAUty, ERRor, VANish, SHAKEspeare.

Spondees: A spondee is a foot composed of two stressed syllables. This line from Julius Caesar starts with a spondee: “HenceHome, you idle creatures get you home.”

Feminine Endings: Lines with feminine endings contain 11 syllables. Hamlet’s famous line, “To be or not to be, that is the question,” has a feminine ending.

Shared lines: Shared lines occur when two or more characters share one line of iambic pentameter. In the following example, Lady Macbeth starts a line, “The sleepy grooms with blood,” and Macbeth completes the line by saying the last four syllables:

Lady Macbeth: They must lie there; go carry them, and smear

The sleepy grooms with blood.

Macbeth:                                      I’ll go no more.

Say it out loud:

Practice saying your lines out loud. Read the examples below while over-emphasizing the syllables in capital letters to indicate their “stressed” position.

ToMORrow AND toMORrow AND toMORrow
Macbeth

With LOVE’S light WINGS did I o’erPERCH these WALLS
Romeo and Juliet

 To BE or NOT to BE that IS the QUESTion
Hamlet

 You BLOCKS, you STONES, you WORSE than SENSEless THINGS
-Julius Caesar


Fun with syllables:
Shakespeare gives us clues to the meaning of lines by placing important syllables in stressed positions. Read the lines above again, but this time only say the stressed syllables. For example, Hamlet’s line would sound like this:

BE   NOT   BE   IS   QUEST.

These important syllables not only convey the meaning of Hamlet’s monologue, but they also capture the essence of the whole play: Hamlet’s questions about existence drive his quest for revenge.


Prose

If your character speaks in prose, or without a specific meter, then your first step should be to look for rhetorical devices in your character’s speech. Characters generally speak in prose if they are of a lower status or are in casual situations. You can easily distinguish verse from prose by looking at the beginning of each line; All lines in a verse speech begin with capital letters. Prose speeches continue across the line breaks without capitalizing the first word of each line. Below is an example from Much Ado About Nothing of a prose monologue:

BENEDICK

The god of love,
That sits above,
And knows me, and knows me,
How pitiful I deserve,–
I mean in singing; but in loving, Leander the good
swimmer, Troilus the first employer of panders, and
a whole bookful of these quondam carpet-mangers,
whose names yet run smoothly in the even road of a
blank verse, why, they were never so truly turned
over and over as my poor self in love. Marry, I
cannot show it in rhyme; I have tried: I can find
out no rhyme to ‘lady’ but ‘baby,’ an innocent
rhyme; for ‘scorn,’ ‘horn,’ a hard rhyme; for,
‘school,’ ‘fool,’ a babbling rhyme; very ominous
endings: no, I was not born under a rhyming planet,
nor I cannot woo in festival terms.

R.O.A.D.S. to Rhetoric 

While you are working on your audition monologue and on your plays, notice the following rhetorical devices: Repetition, Omission, Addition, Direction, and Substitution.  These devices can provide you with character clues, telling you more about the speaker, and they can provide acting cues, indicating how to behave physically or vocally when delivering the lines.

Rhetoric is the art of using language effectively. Shakespeare uses the tools of rhetoric to shape his characters’ thoughts and actions. Some characters are eloquent speakers and can easily win arguments or display their dexterity with words, like King Henry V. Other characters mix up their words or use words inappropriately, such as Dogberry, the clown in Much Ado About Nothing. Shakespeare intentionally uses rhetoric to create  characters’ unique ways of speaking.

Repetition

Repetition gives speech a cadence, a rhythm to follow.  Our brains, which are tuned to appreciate harmony, naturally pick up on these patterns, assisting us in synthesizing ideas.  Shakespeare frequently uses devices of repetition within the structure of iambic pentameter, which already has a distinct rhythm; layering the rhetorical device on top of the scansion augments the brain’s ability to hear patterns.

Omission

Omission interrupts the normal flow of speech or ideas in some way, by leaving out a component of a sentence or a layer of meaning.  This omission requires the brain to try to fill in the gap.  You should also consider what omission implies about the listener.  Either Shakespeare or the character thinks that his audience (within the play or in the theatre) can fill in the blanks, crediting them with enough intelligence and reasoning to follow along – or, if the gaps are not easily filled, that may be significant; a character may be counting on poor comprehension.

Addition

These rhetorical devices focus on words which are either extraneous or explanatory – they either elaborate unnecessarily on something which is already clear, or they make clear what was previously vague.  Many of these devices slow down a speech, drawing out the tempo.  They may overlap with devices of repetition.

Direction

Devices of direction change the order in which the words come; they are devices of arrangement and rearrangement, and they can either illuminate or confuse meaning.  A device which arranges words more neatly, by highlighting contrast or building to a climactic point, illuminates meaning.  A device which rearranges words into a less sensible order, altering normal English syntax, may obfuscate meaning.  These devices may also more literally change the direction of the speech – that is, change to whom a character directs a speech.

Substitution

Devices of substitution are when, in one way or another, one word or phrase stands in for something else.  This may be purely grammatical, or it may be more conceptual and abstract.  Metaphors, malapropisms, and puns all fall into this category.

Notice that these five types of forms are not mutually exclusive.  They may overlap and intertwine.  A figure of direction may also have repetition within it.  You may find omission nested within addition. Some devices straddle the line between one type and another, and there isn’t always a “right answer.”  Look to rhetoric for suggestions and clues as a way of opening up the text, not to try and pin it down to any one interpretation or another.

When examining rhetoric within a character’s speech, it’s important to consider both what the author (Shakespeare) is doing and what the character is doing.  Examining Shakespeare’s craft is important for appreciation of his skill as a writer, and examining the character is important for performance purposes.

How to find R.O.A.D.S in your monologue:

Look for Repetition, Omission, Addition, Direction, and Substitution in the text of your monologue. Circle, underline, and highlight your findings.

  • Notice when your character repeats words or sentence structures. What point are they trying to get across?
  • Notice when your character leaves out words or important information. Is the character trying to hide something? Are they forgetful?
  • Notice when your character adds extra words to their message. Why are they using flowery language? Who are they trying to impress?
  • Notice when your character alters or rearranges the order of their words. Does this arrangement make their speech more clear or muddy? Why might this character re-arrange their word order?
  • Notice when your character replaces simple words for complex words, metaphors, or puns. What about this character and their situation might explain their choice to replace simple words for more complex or abstract phrases?

At the American Shakespeare Center, one of the first things the actors do when they receive their scripts is paraphrase their lines word for word.  While 98.5% of the words Shakespeare writes into his plays are still in common usage, English is a highly versatile and inventive language, with its multiplicity of word choices for a single meaning, as well as its multiplicity of meanings for a single word. As such, word definitions may have changed over the last 400 years, leaving room for exploration and discovery within each one.  Moreover, since Shakespeare used over 30,000 words in his plays, and the average English speaker only uses a vocabulary of about 5,000 – 8,000 words on a regular basis, paraphrasing can help ensure that our campers have made the strongest playing choice when it comes to the meanings of various words.

The benefits of a word for word paraphrase extend beyond word meaning.  Syntax and word order inform actors about character options and choices. If a character always chooses a 3 syllable word where a 1 syllable word will do, or mis-orders her words, or never comes to the end of a sentence, paraphrasing can help actors to recognize those traits, providing them with more playing choices.

Following the example below, try to create your own word-for-word paraphrase of your monologue text. Be creative and use words that you think are both fun to say and fit the meaning and moment of the story you are telling. Try different words if you feel stuck. Use a dictionary or thesaurus to help you.

How to paraphrase:

  • Replace all verbs, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs even if the words are familiar.
  • Try not to change the order of the words.
  • You do not need to replace prepositions (in, before, above), pronouns (she, he, we, them), conjunctions (and, so, but), or proper nouns (characters’ names and geographical places).

Example:

Romeo and Juliet – Act III, ii  
JULIET PARAPHRASE
Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds, Sprint, swiftly, you blazing-hoofed horses
Towards Phoebus’ lodging: such a wagoner Approaching Phoebus’ house: such a driver
As Phaeton would whip you to the west, As Phaeton will lash you to the setting sun,
And bring in cloudy night immediately, And usher in dark evening urgently,
That runaways’ eyes may wink and Romeo That truants’ peepers will sleep and Romeo
Leap to these arms, untalk’d of and unseen. Jump to these limbs, not spoken of and unnoticed.

On the first full day of camp, we spend the morning holding unified auditions in order to cast each of the session’s three shows as well as the roles for the mid-session Showcase.  Auditions are a combination of traditional monologue performance and collaborative improvisational techniques which simply require a willingness to play and creative choices in the moment. All administrative staff, show directors, RDAs, and production interns are present for these auditions.

 

Staff sits down to hammer out casting immediately after the auditions end, while campers go to lunch and then take their introductory voice workshop.

We do our very best to post cast lists and distribute scripts for the three main shows before dinner that same day, so campers can begin familiarizing themselves with their parts before the readthroughs held that evening.

Casting for the mid-session Showcase is contingent on the main show casting, and campers will receive their Showcase roles and scripts in the middle of the first week.

 

 

What else should I know about the auditions?
The auditions contain several sections and multiple chances for campers to display their various skills, including both ensemble work and individual performance. In other words, auditions are a group experience. Some of you may be seasoned auditioning veterans; others may be experiencing them for the first time. Shakespeare wrote his plays for a company of actors, not a single spotlight-stealer. We will be watching not only how you work and perform, but how you work and perform collaboratively with your fellow artists, and you better believe that we take everything into account when making casting decisions.

Does the ASC Theatre Camp have a casting policy?
Indeed we do. We support and follow the rules outlined by the American Shakespeare Center’s general casting policy:

We look for actors of all shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities.  We frequently cast women as male characters and sometimes men as female characters.  We cast actors of color in any/all roles.  We believe that Shakespeare’s plays tell the stories of all of us and we want our casting to reflect that.

Each ASC Theatre Camp participant is cast in only one of the three shows we have slated for each Session. You might receive one role or several depending on the demands of the play. All campers will also be cast in the mid-session Showcase.

All campers must prepare a 10-15 line monologue to perform in auditions. Monologues must be approved by Camp Director Lia Wallace before audition day. To get monologue approval, all campers must fill out the appropriate audition form, which includes a section for entering the texts of their top three monologue choices. Lia will try to give everyone their first choice, but we do not allow multiple campers in a session to use the same monologue and choices are made on a first-come, first-served basis.

Of course! If you’re not sure where to start, check out Shakespeare’s Monologues, an excellent resource for finding the perfect Shakespearean monologue for you. Or feel free to ask for advice by getting in touch with Lia directly at lia.wallace@americanshakespearecenter.com.

Absolutely. We’ll have a special skills section of the auditions for all campers to show off any special skills they’d like us to take into consideration during casting. Special skills include (but are by no means limited to) music (vocal or instrumental), dance, accents, juggling, stage combat, acrobatics… whatever you’ve got, we want to see it.

Allowed? More like ENTHUSIASTICALLY ENCOURAGED! Bring any and everything you have that may be helpful for mounting a performance.

Some campers may be seasoned auditioning veterans, while others may be experiencing them for the first time. Regardless, the ASC Theatre Camp prides itself on the supportive environment, collaborative process, and non-traumatic nature of our unified auditions.

The most important thing for all campers to know about our auditions is that everyone is guaranteed a role.

The auditions contain several sections and multiple chances for campers to display their various skills, including both ensemble work and individual performance. In other words, auditions are a group experience.

Shakespeare wrote his plays for a company of actors, not a single spotlight-stealer. We will be watching not only how you work and perform, but how you work and perform collaboratively with your fellow artists, and you better believe that we take everything into account when making casting decisions.

Indeed we do. We support and follow the rules outlined by the American Shakespeare Center’s general casting policy:

We look for actors of all shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities.  We frequently cast women as male characters and sometimes men as female characters.  We cast actors of color in any/all roles.  We believe that Shakespeare’s plays tell the stories of all of us and we want our casting to reflect that.