A Reflection on Winterfest Auditions

Arts  /  by Annika Goldman '18  /  November 11, 2016

Sasha Syunkova '17/The Lawrence

I’ve always been the auditioner, not the caster. I have grown up being the one to walk into the room, nervous, hoping that I am what the person sitting behind the table wants. I always over-analyze everything said or done in the casting room. It would scare me if the casting agent breathed a little loud, or looked unamused, or wrote notes down before I finished. Did they decide I wasn’t right even before the end of the audition? As an actor, these fears plagued me. Even last year, when I auditioned for Winterfest, Lawrenceville’s annual festival of short, student-directed plays, I was intimidated by my peers: they silently watched me and closed the audition with the dismissal of a “thank you.”

This year, I sit on the other side of the table. I am the one who watches the anxious actors file in and perform the one-minute-long monologue and who closes the audition with a “thank you” that makes the actor feel as if they did poorly.

As I have been in their shoes, I feel the need to address you all: to say you weren’t bad! To actors who feel bad as they walk out of the audition room, I am here to say that you were all amazing, but there were so many of you that we had to move quickly through people.

We saw honest and genuine performances. We saw people who made bold choices. Although it was the same monologue over and over for an hour and a half each night, each person found a way to make it unique. We had people look at us and pound on the table, which was intimidating but convincing. There were people who used the whole room as their stage and people who remained center stage but commanded the attention of the whole room. There were people who nailed parts of the monologue, and there was my favorite: one fine fellow who, after my request, recited the monologue as if he were changing into a werewolf.

However, my show has nothing to do with werewolves, as I am directing “The Dining Room.” I need a total of 12 actors, and I was concerned before the auditions that I would not be able to find enough people with the acting personalities I was looking for and who would also be willing to take on a larger time commitment. Being inside the casting room this year taught me that I was wrong. I completely underestimated the amount of acting talent that people have at this school. I’m grateful, because thanks to the many parts in Winterfest, everyone has the opportunity to show those skills even if acting is not their main passion.

And for everyone who didn’t audition or doesn’t plan on getting involved, make sure to come out and watch all the wonderful shows in Winter Term.