The Theatre program is a vital and active part of the Department of Communications & Fine Arts. We offer classes toward an Associate of Arts degree as well as produce two main stage plays at the Schuler Auditorium each year. Auditions are open to any North Idaho College students as well as the community.
If you are not familiar with how auditions work it can be a bit intimidating to consider auditioning for a part in a play. This is a brief explanation of what to expect.
- Auditions are usually held six to eight weeks before the play opens. You will be auditioning in front of the director of the show, and most likely the stage manager, possibly a few others, and all the other people who came to audition. Don't worry, the rest of the actors are as nervous as you are - even if they don't show it. Normally they are held during two different evenings in a convenient place such as a room in the SUB or the actual stage in Schuler Auditorium.
- Audition announcements are usually posted on the NIC Theatre Department website and in the the NICNow faculty and staff e-newsletter.
You may have heard about how auditions require a prepared piece, of a certain length, etc. This is true of some theatres, in fact if you are auditioning for a musical you should come prepared with a song to sing and sheet music for the accompanist. Details of what you should have ready are usually listed in the audition notice. For auditions at NIC you will usually do "cold readings" unless otherwise instructed. That means there are some scenes the director has printed out for you to look over for a few minutes and then stand up along with a few other people and read out the lines. If the audition announcement requests a prepared monologue and you have one - excellent. If you don't, come anyway. There will be some script pages for you to use for a cold reading.
- It is a great idea to arrive early, say hello and introduce yourself, pick up the scene script and take a few minutes to get familiar with it.
- It is an even better idea to have actually read the play, and maybe even read a few Cliff notes about it before you get to auditions. This does two things. First, it shows you are willing to put in the time and effort to be prepared - and actors, like boy scouts, should always be prepared. This is a statement that you will most likely take this commitment seriously. Second, you will have the advantage of knowing what is going on, which will make your audition much better.
One of the first things you will be asked to do is fill out an audition form with contact information. Do that quickly and efficiently. The director is already forming an opinion about how it will be to work with you. Show him/her you will be on top of things, dependable, and collaborative by providing the information they need instantly-- and legibly. There are extra points if you bring your own pen! (Just kidding.)
You will most likely meet the stage manager first. This is the person who is likely sitting at a table handing out scripts and telling you to "fill out this form". As an actor you generally will do exactly as the stage manager tells you, when he/she tells you, and will do it happily and cheerfully. The stage manager is one of the most important positions in a production, and they are depending on you to be where you're needed, when you're needed, doing what is needed.
Once it looks like everyone has arrived the director will stand up and say hello and a few other things. He will choose a few people to read some parts. You and the other chosen actors stand up together where the director has indicated (on the stage or at the front of the room) and you will stumble and stammer your way through the unfamiliar dialog - this is normal. Then the next group will step up and do something similar. The director will have several different arrangements of groups and will likely ask you to read more than one character. He is trying to envision what part is the best fit for you, and how all the various people might work as an ensemble.
If you are ever wondering what you should do, just ask.
What a director is frequently looking for is "direct-ability". That is the ability to take suggestions and directions and incorporate that into your reading. Sometimes, a director will have you read through a part a second time after offering some directions. Always pay attention to what the director says. Ask for clarification if you need.
Plan on staying until the end of the audition period. If you leave early, it can look like you are a budding diva, who only comes to grace us with his presence and then leave because the other people aren't important. As it turns out, it is critical that the ensemble of actors work as --well-- an ensemble. Everyone should have everyone else's back. That culture of being there for your fellow actor can save a show. It has happened that someone during a performance "goes up" on a line and a fellow actor, who knows his part as well as everyone else's, can get his partner back on script and the audience never detects a thing. Conversely, a diva, or an underprepared actor can leave the show hanging. Which kind of actor would you rather work with intensely for the next six weeks, rehearsing for four hours a night, six nights a week? Be the kind of actor with whom you would like to work.
Back to the audition process: You are usually only expected to show up for one of the audition nights, although you are welcome to come to both. (It can be very educational just watching other people audition!) There may also be "call backs." Meaning the director would like to see you audition again. The stage manager will contact you if there are call backs.
The cast list will be posted on director Erick Wolfe's door at Boswell room 214 by noon the day after the last audition. If you have been cast in a part, please initial your name. As soon as possible after this you should contact constume designer Carole Urquhart about measurements. Erick usually doesn't assume that you've accepted the part until you have contacted Carole.
The other thing to remember about auditions is that they get easier the more you do them. If you feel awkward, (as if you've suddenly grown extra arms and legs and can't figure out what to do with them) at your first audition (which is completely normal), then next one won't be quite so alien. The one after that might make you feel like you are starting to understand the process. Each time after that can add to your self-confidence.
Don't feel badly if you weren't cast for a part. Different plays require different actors and "types." Please know that the director may very much want to work with you, but due to the dynamics of this script, or as the casting process proceeds, due to the dynamics of the forming cast, you may not be the right fit for this play. Thinking of it as a "right fit" is more accurate, especially since getting cast is not a measure of your talent, skill, or value. You might be a perfect fit for the next play.
Upcoming Shows are yet to be determined. Stay tuned...
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Your Reputation Starts Here
Besides learning your lines, making your entrances on time, developing your character, and rehearsing for several weeks you, as an actor, also need to have a costume. Sometimes several. The costume department works just as many or more hours to make you look perfect on stage. As an actor your part is to cheerfully come to your fittings so the costume designer and technicians can make you look the part.
Generally speaking, you will have 2 or more fittings for your costumes. This is in addition to the first appointment immediately after you are cast to have your measurements taken.
The normal procedure for a costume fitting is as follows:
- Make an appointment. Either the Stage Manager, or the Costume Shop Manager, Carole (who in this case is also the Costume Designer) will contact you about when you can come in for a fitting. Please reply promptly. Once you have arranged a time please make sure you remember. (This is one of several reasons you must put correct and legible contact information on your audition papers.)
- Remember your appointment. Carole may text you a reminder a few minutes before your appointment, but don’t count on that. Do whatever is necessary to make sure you remember: set an alarm on your phone, set several, put it on your calendar app, write it on your hand, put a sticky note on your bathroom mirror, etc. Do all of those things at the same time.
- Wear underwear. At the fitting there is a certain etiquette to be followed. There are some things you should and shouldn’t say or do. One of the first things you should remember is to WEAR UNDERWEAR. Yes, it is true some people don’t wear underwear. Now you would think that this is no big deal for a costume designer who deals with semi-naked actors all the time, but there is apparently something different about an actor who has no underwear. A sort of too much information moment. (All of us costume people seem to agree on this. Yes, we took a poll.) Some costume shops have gone so far as to have a pair of “communal tighty-whitey briefs” on hand for those actors who don’t wear underwear to a fitting. That is kind of a “eeweh” moment for the actor and they tend to remember after that. This applies to women as well as men. For men briefs rather than boxers are better. I have accidentally pinned costumes to boxers, which makes it harder to get the costume off, and boxers create a different kind of fit. Wear a t-shirt. For women usually a regular bra is the thing to wear unless the costume designer has requested that you wear or bring a sports bra. Also, a thong is just as “TMI” as wearing nothing. Things to avoid wearing include sweat pants – they are bulky and hard to measure around.
- Privacy. Everyone has a different level of comfort when it comes to privacy and dressing. I have worked with actors with no inhibitions at all and who are happy to walk around completely naked, to actors who are much more comfortable with some privacy - dare I say even shy. I personally am more comfortable giving an actor some privacy as they are getting dressed and when they are partially dressed, helping with the (sometimes confusing) fastenings on the costume. My goal is to make an actor as comfortable as possible during a fitting. I usually hand an actor a costume and show them the fitting room. When they tell me they are ready (meaning somewhat dressed and need help with fastenings), they come out and I put in pins, or lace up corsets, or whatever is needed. I always ask before I come in to the fitting room.
- Mockups. If we are actually constructing a costume for you, your first fitting will be to try on the “mockup,” which is usually done in an unbleached muslin. It won’t look pretty. The point of it is to try out the pattern that was made to fit you, and to make alterations to the mockup, which are transferred to the pattern. (Then we know the actual costume made from the pattern will fit you.) We will be marking it with pencil and marker, and putting safety pins in places. There will be safety pins in place of fastenings. It is not unusual for me to accidentally pin the costume to your t-shirt. Occupational hazard. Once we have everything marked then you get to change out of that into another costume piece, or, if we are done, your own clothes.
- Time. I try to limit the time of a fitting to not more than half an hour. There are actually Equity (Actor’s Union) rules about how long a fitting can be and what is cumulative amount of time that can be used in fittings. Sometimes a fitting will be longer, sometimes shorter. But, I try to not take up too much of your time. Sometimes if you have multiple changes, or complicated costumes a fitting will run longer. I try to base fitting times on Equity guidelines because although this is academic theatre it is a good practice to keep as close to professional standards as we can. It ups our game. And, some of you may be considering theatre as a career choice. You should know what the standards are out there.
- Second Fittings. And Sometimes Third. Most of you will have a second fitting. This is to take care of the details. Your costume has had alterations done from the first fitting, and we need to check to see if anything more needs to be done. You will also get some accessories, such as shoes, socks or tights, jewelry, etc. You may, at the second or third fittings, also get a wig fitting. Or that may be a separate fitting. My goal by this fitting is to have everything ready for dress rehearsal – that doesn’t always happen. Sometime, but rarely, there may be yet another fitting.
- Talking with the Costume Designer. My job is to choose appropriate costumes for the character you are portraying. Your job is to do the acting. It is important not to get those two things confused. Just as you, the actor, would be out of line telling another actor how to play his part (that is between the actor and the director) you would also be out of line telling the costume designer what you should wear, or the set designer what the set should look like, or the director how the blocking should be done. People who have a community theatre or high school theatre background may not realize this. Community and high school theatre tends to have a “let’s all pitch in” culture, which on the one hand is good, but on the other hand it tends to made everyone feel they all have an equal opinion about artistic decisions. That is not how it works in professional theatre and academic theatre (which is training for professional theatre.) When you come to a fitting we may talk about your character and how the costume reflects your character and the world of the play. A very inappropriate conversation to have (and I have seen this) is for an actor to say, “Oh, I don’t like this. I would never wear this.” The answer to that is, YOU may not ever wear it, but it isn’t YOU that is on stage. It is YOUR CHARACTER, and the Costume Designer has decided it is appropriate for your character. And, that decision is for the Costume Designer to make. The closest we may come to an exception to this is that I may say something like, “Your character seems to have a nervous tick. Would you like a handkerchief or pair of spectacles or something to fiddle with to use for that?” You may say yes, or no thank you, or you may have been rehearsing with a pocket watch or a hat instead. You can feel free to have that discussion. One thing that is very necessary to discuss is movement: are you rolling around on the floor? (I need to make sure nothing will get snagged), are you kneeling? (you might need knee pads), do you use a handkerchief, or have a pair of spectacles, or have a letter? (you might need a pocket) are you having a sword fight? (you will need extra movement room in your breeches and coat, and you will need a sword hanger). Sometimes these movement things develop during rehearsal and I might not be aware of them. It is always good to let me know what kind of movement or costume props you have been using in rehearsal when we talk.
- When do you get your costume? The quick answer is dress rehearsal night. However, there are exceptions. I try to get foot wear to the actors as soon as possible, especially if it is something they are not used to wearing normally. This will vary as to when I can get it to you. Please be patient. If there are corsets or big skirts which will alter your movement I try to get those to you at an early date. (I once made corsets for all the women in A Flea in Her Ear. At the first rehearsal in corsets two actresses were supposed to move a coffee table. They discovered they no longer bent in the middle with corsets on and could no longer bend over to lift the coffee table. But, they were troupers. They stayed in character and managed to move the table by pushing it bit by bit with their feet until the director could get his breath back from rolling on the floor laughing to tell them to stop. They eventually learned how to bend at the hips in their corsets instead of in the middle. Then there was the actress that discovered you have to put your lace up boots on before you put your corset on because you can no longer bend to reach your feet. Ah, good times.) I may also make arrangements to have a few pieces used at an early rehearsal, so I can get a good visual of how it looks on stage. If this happens the Stage Manager will let you know.
- Please and Thank You. And of course, being nice, being polite, and being appreciative of everyone else’s hard work to make you look good on stage is the right thing to do. It also gives you the reputation of being good to work with and, as they say, nothing goes around a theatre quicker than reputation – good or bad.
During Dress Rehearsal, Performance & Strike
There are many good articles on line about etiquette for actors. I encourage you to ready a few. They all say pretty much the same thing about being on time and showing respect for each other and the crew. This is a list of expectations for you in terms of your costumes and make-up here in our department.
When you enter the theatre back stage you should check your props (make sure they are there in the correct spot), then go to the dressing room. You can drop off your personal stuff in your locker, then go to the makeup room. Bring as little personal stuff as you can. You will not have time to study. Don’t bring valuables –there is no way to secure them.
In the Make-up room
- You are required to have your own stage makeup kit. Sharing makeup, like sharing needles, is a bad idea. We will be providing makeup setting spray which goes on before makeup and after all of the other makeup goes on. We will provide any specialty makeup such as wounds or scars. But, the basic foundation, contour, blush, eyeliners, etc. that come in a basic kit is your expense. HOWEVER if you have a tattoo and the costume designer wants it covered YOU are responsible for and required to buy the specialty makeup to cover it. (Spray on leg makeup at $12-$14 per can is one choice.) This is non-negotiable. DO NOT get a tattoo once you are cast until the show closes. Also non-negotiable.
- REMEMBER: MAKEUP FIRST, THEN COSTUME. This is usually the best way to keep makeup off the costume. You don’t want to take the chance of accidentally spilling makeup on the costume. Once you have your costume on try to avoid the makeup area as much as possible. (This isn't always possible if you have a makeup change. Do the best you can to keep makeup off the costume.)
- You may be sharing a makeup space with other people. To avoid a traffic jam you should come early – as early as one to two hours before the show starts. (Not just at "half hour".) When you are done putting on your make up, clean up your space to make room for the next actor. The only exception to this is if you have a makeup change later in the show. You may be wearing costumes that give you a much larger bulk. It would be easy to turn quickly in your frock coat with huge tails and accidentally wipe clean the makeup counter sweeping everything on to the floor and spreading rouge and powder all over your costume and the room. Avoid this by putting away your makeup, locked safely in its box.
- Be prepared. There will be a makeup session for everyone about a week or two before dress rehearsal. Don’t be that person who can’t be bothered to learn how to do makeup and expect to keep bugging the other actors who are trying to get their makeup on. You can also check out some tutorials online.
- There can be no food or drink in the makeup room once you are in costume. The exception to this is a closed container of water. Put your name on the water bottle and throw it away at the end of the night. Don’t make anyone clean up after you. The other exception is a throat lozenge or mint. I usually provide a bowl of peppermints just for you. But make sure it doesn’t get on the costume.
- Once you have your makeup and your wig on then you can put on your costume.
How to take care of your costumes
Yes, you are responsible for treating your costumes with respect. The dresser is there to make sure your costumes get cleaned and are ready for you before each performance. They are also there to help you with quick changes or fastenings (usually things you can’t reach like corset lacing) and they are there for emergencies, such as a rip or a popped button. But, they are not there to pick up after you. They won’t do things like pick up your costumes off the floor. Be thoughtful of your dresser. Below are some specifics.
- Costume Lockers and racks. Your costume will be in your locker with your name on the door, or if your costumes are on the hanging rack your costume will be hanging to the right of the divider with your name on it. Always put it away in the same spot. (If you hang your costume to the left of your divider it will look like it belongs to the other actor.)
- Hang up your costume when you are done. Notice how your costume pieces were hung and try to put them back the same way. There should be one hanger for each costume piece. If your sweaty costumes are wadded up or stuffed through the hanger rather than hung straight you will be wearing a bundle of stinky wrinkles for the next performance. No one will fix your mess.
- You have been issued a white t-shirt (most of you) to wear under your costume. This is to catch sweat. After each performance you should put this t-shirt in the laundry basket that has been provided. It will be washed and dried by your dresser and will be with your costumes for the next performance.
- Your shirt. It will also most likely be sweaty and if you put it in the laundry basket it will be magically washed and returned to your locker.
- Be kind to the dresser who is making you look good and smell better. "Please", "thank you" and "how are you tonight" are very important.
- What to do with your tights. You have also been issued a lingerie bag with your name on it. Please put your costume tights, (and other small pieces such as socks) in this bag and put it in the laundry basket. Please don't stuff it full with the t-shirt and shirt. It won’t get clean that way. If you aren’t sure what goes in the lingerie bag ask your dresser.
- Anything not in the laundry basket will not be washed. So if you forget and stuff your tights in your ditty bag or with the rest of your costume it will be unwashed, crunchy and stinky for you to wear for the next performance. Your choice.
- The rest of your costume does not get washed. Ick, but true. It will be sprayed with a disinfectant spray (in professional theatre it is sprayed with vodka). However, if you put all of your costume pieces on one hanger it makes the dresser have to go to a lot of unnecessary work to take everything off, spray each piece, and put everything back on. I will instruct the dresser to leave your costume un-sprayed and stinky if you hang it up this way. You should put your costume on several hangers so it will be easy to spray.
- Food: It is not unusual that you need to eat about the same time you arrive at the theatre, so you brought a nice juicy hamburger or greasy pizza. Excellent. Go to the Green Room, far away from your costumes and enjoy. Then clean up your trash, wash your hands and go get ready. Do not be that actor who announces that he never wants to be cast again because he is eating his burrito backstage in costume. We take names.
- Leaving your costume backstage. Sometimes you will need to, for example, leave stage with a jacket on, but enter in the next scene with it off. This means it is somewhere backstage. No problem. However, it is the actor’s responsibility at the end of the show after curtain call, to go find said jacket and take it to the dressing room and hang it up. This is always the actor’s responsibility not the dresser’s. Now you know.
- If you are part of the band. Let’s say we are doing a musical and we have a band. All of the costume guidelines also apply to members of the band. This means you don’t leave your hat and bow tie (or any other costume piece) on the music stand or chair. They go back to the dressing room.
How to Work in a Small Space with Other Sweaty People
- Pre-Show Shower. Before you come to dress rehearsal or performance take a shower and use deodorant.
- Deodorant is REQUIRED. Sometimes stinky actors who didn’t wear deodorant have actually ruined a costume because the smell won’t come out. Don’t be that actor. If you are allergic to regular deodorants please use alternatives, such as hydrogen peroxide, or baking soda, or vodka (you wear it, not drink it).
- If you don’t have time to go home to take a shower, bring your towel, deodorant, etc. to the dressing room early. You can keep these things in your locker or your ditty bag. There are two showers in each of the dressing rooms for actors' use.
- Once you are dressed and made-up, leave the dressing room and makeup room to make room for other people. The place to socialize, or to warm up is in the green room, not the dressing room or the makeup room or backstage. It is best to avoid backstage unless you have a reason to be there. There are lots of other people (stage managers, costume people, stage hands, etc.) doing work back there and you don’t want to be in their way. This is why we have a green room.
- Making room. Tidy up your stuff from the makeup room and put it in your locker in the dressing room, so there is room for other people to use the space. This is especially important in a show with lots of people. In a small show you should tidy up, but you don’t have to remove your kit from the makeup room or put it on the shelf above the mirrors to make room for the next round of actors.
- Music. Please don’t play your own personal music. It may be delightful to you, but it may be like fingernails on a blackboard to your fellow actors. They may be taking the time while they put on their makeup to get into character. It will break their concentration. You also should be taking the time while you put on your makeup to "put on" your character. If you think that playing your music with earbuds would be a good compromise—well, you would be wrong. That may keep you from hearing the announcements from the stage manager, which may result in you missing your cue. Which would result in your being verbally reamed by the stage manager, then the director. And could also result in you not being cast next time because you will be known as "that guy that missed his entrance because he had to be listening to his music." Don’t be that guy. Your reputation starts here.
- Costume Notes: I try to keep a notebook and pen in the makeup room. If there is a problem with the costume the dresser should know about, but doesn’t need immediate attention write it down and the costume shop will fix it magically overnight so it is ready for the next performance. This would be things like your panty hose came apart, or you lost a button or other fastening.
At the End of the Performance
- Quickly go back to the makeup room, remove your wig (if you have one) and store it carefully on the wig head. If you mash it on the head it will look like that for you to wear it for the next performance.
- Quickly go to the dressing room to change out of your costumes.
- Remember all your stuff.
- Leave as quickly as you can (to the green room if you are not leaving the theatre immediately) so that the dresser can pick up the laundry and get home as well. Don’t make the dresser wander around asking if everyone is done in the dressing room, so that he or she can pick up laundry.
After the Last Performance There is Strike
- Move your personal stuff to the green room. This is an especially busy time for the dresser and costume strike crew. It is even more important that you gather up your personal stuff and get it out of the dressing rooms quickly. You can move it to the Green Room.
- Double check. Make sure you have all of your personal stuff, including makeup, hair accessories, your clothes, coat, flowers, candy, etc. You would be amazed at the stuff people leave behind especially if they are in a hurry. Look in the ditty bag twice.
- It is expected that all actors stay for strike unless the Technical Director says otherwise. If you are doing costume strike Carole will release you from costume strike when we are done, and then you go help with the set strike. The Strike Director will be the Stage Manager. This means he will be the one to release you from strike. You cannot leave until the Stage Manager has specifically told you that you can. "Just slipping out" is a MAJOR breech of protocol, and is very likely to result in you never being cast again. This is true even if you have family members from out of town that drove hours and hours through a snowstorm uphill both ways to see you on stage. If you get out of costume fast enough before strike starts you could get five minutes with them before you have to go to strike. Plan ahead for this.