-by Peter Hardy
The Essential Theatre’s 2015 General Auditions are coming up this Saturday, which means that for five hours straight we’re going to be seeing actors coming in and doing prepared monolog auditions. Later on we’ll invite some of those people to read for the two new plays we’ll be producing in this summer’s Essential Festival (Joshua Mikel’s LILLIAN LIKES IT and Natalia Naman’s THE OLD SHIP OF ZION), along with a lot of actors and actresses from around town whose work we’re already familiar with.
Why do we still hold our own annual General Auditions, when most of the companies in town now rely on the Unified General Auditions coming up at the end of March? (That’s when representatives of dozens of local companies will watch two straight days of prepared audition pieces.) Well, the Unifieds are a great casting resource, and we’ll be attending those as well … but not everyone can get a slot with them, particularly if they’re young and new in town. With Essential’s Generals, anyone who signs up for a time slot can come show us their stuff. (And the schedule’s almost full, as of this writing …) And every year there are some nice surprises, people we’d never have seen otherwise, and very often one or two of them end up being cast in one of our Festival shows.
When I came to Atlanta, in 1986, many of what are today’s long-established companies were just getting started (or hadn’t even been dreamed of yet). Within a couple of months of arriving in town I was able to audition for (and get cast in) a show at what is now one of the most respected and successful theatres in the city. As the years have gone by the number of companies around town has continued to grow, but in some ways it feels like the circle of opportunity has only become more closed off, harder to break into. So the Essential Theatre is going to continue to hold General Auditions, every year, so that (if only for an afternoon), anybody can work up some material and come in and give it their best shot.
And every year, we’ll have some of those nice surprises.