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Auditions pose various challenges

Center for the Arts Technical Director Mose Peterson (center) instructs theater students on how to construct part of the stage design for the upcoming show 'The Diviners.' CHRIS FRANZ / chrisfranzphoto.blogspot.com


Theater students all face a similar challenge: auditions. The theater department hosted two auditions for upcoming shows on one weekend.

This spring, the theater department will perform the French comedy, “Tartuffe,” written by the renowned 15th century playwright, Molière.

Later this summer The Straw Hat Players will perform a variety of comedy/musicals throughout the summer of 2011.

While the spring play, “Tartuffe,” sounds different from the traditional musical styling productions of The Straw Hat Players, the procedure for auditioning for both of these shows remains the same.

Junior Caroline Stommes has performed in past shows and participated with The Straw Hat Players in past summers, and has been honing in on her auditioning skills through her college career. And with a large portion of Straw Hat shows as musical theatre, one needs to perfect the craft of the audition first.

“For Straw hat, the requirements are that the total audition package has to be one minute and thirty seconds,” says Stommes. “You sing a song and perform a monologue. You can decide, within that timeframe, if you want the song longer or shorter than the monologue. All of the Straw Hat shows are musical theatre. Except for one every season.”

While the stipulations for a Straw Hat auditions sound clear cut enough, the audition for this performance of “Tartuffe,” had more specific requirements. The way that the play is written is not contemporary theatre language, but in the tradition that Molière was use to in 15th century France.

“A one minute Moliere monologue and it has to be in verse. Because there are different translations of Moliere,” says Stommes. “Some are in verse and prose; so they don’t rhyme at all. But for our show, we are doing it in verse.”

For the audition of the play for “Tartuffe,” it is helpful for the performer, and beneficial to the director to see, to recite a monologue from other Molière plays. Junior Kim Miller, who has performed in recent campus productions, has dedicated more of her time to directing, and used that to her advantage when she auditions for shows.

“If I’m directing, I make sure I know the play inside and out,” says Miller. “If I’m auditioning, I pick the part I’m looking for, like for the play “Tartuffe,” I wanted to play the part of Elmire. So I geared a monologue that was a Moliere show. I picked a different play with a similar part, so I could show the director I was interested in that piece.”

Not only does choosing a monologue from the same author benefit the performer, but a different play helps too. Choosing a monologue that fits appropriately with the setting of the audition also benefits the actor.
“It’s best to have monologues that speak to the audience…and if it’s more open-ended, it works better. Says Miller.

While the parameters to an audition seem daunting at first, the process itself takes time. And of course, much like Stommes and Miller, everyone has to start somewhere. The drive one has for performing in front of others isn’t the only requirement for acting, but passion as well.

“If you’re someone that can really connect with their emotions and are willing to be vulnerable and free with everything, then give acting a shot,” says Stommes.

“Tartuffe” starts April 13-April 16 at 7:30 pm on Gaede Stage at MSUM.

The Straw Hat Players beginning performing shows this summer on Hansen Stage at MSUM.

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