If you pay attention to the AOA, you may see posts or hear members talk about auditions, and you may have even wondered, "What are they talking about?" Well, for those curiously inclined, today is your lucky day! This post is about our audition process and certain expectations you need to know before agreeing to a role.
So what are auditions?
Simply put, auditions are how we determine who is playing what character for our performances at the Medieval Fair of Norman. We cover a wide range of characters from Arthurian legends, and we switch which characters we use each year. There are the staple characters that everyone expects to see - King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, Lancelot, Morgan La Fey, etc. - but we also include lesser known characters like Branor, Claudas, or Vortigern.
Some of these characters may have more performance responsibilities than others. We categorize our characters as the following:
On-Board: Characters that are a part of our main performance (usually a Human Chessboard).
Off-Board: Characters that are not a part of our main performance, but are essential to other performances (such as our Song & Dance Show) or our general presence at Medieval Fair.
Fighters: Characters performing a choreographed fight for a performance.
Nobility: Characters that are nobility in Arthurian legends. Usually we ask that these characters participate in the parades at the Medieval Fair.
Non-Nobles: Characters that are not nobility in Arthurian legends.
Non-Moving: Characters a part of our Human Chessboard that are assigned a chess piece that does not move during the show.
Non-Speaking: Characters that do not have a line of dialogue during our Human Chessboard.
Body-Bearers: Stage hands and people who help with the behind the scenes operations.
A person can be assigned a character that falls into multiple categories. For example: King Arthur usually is an On-Board, Nobility character, and depending on the year, may also be a fighter. So the person playing Arthur at fair will be required to be a part of our main show, perform a choreographed fight, and partake in the parades.
How do auditions work?
At auditions, you will be given a list of characters, a survey asking what roles you are interested in (from most interested to least interested), and sample scripts for you to read from. You will fill out the survey to let the directorial team know what characters you would most like to play, then you will find people to help you read the scripts with your character in them.
When you are ready to give your audition, you will wait in line with your group until called to perform. Afterwards, you may find another group to practice a second or third audition for any other characters you may want to play. Once everyone has had the opportunity to audition multiple times, the directorial team will call a lunch break.
After lunch, the director will ask specific people for callbacks, asking them to read for specific or different parts. If you are not called back, that does not mean you did not get a role or your most interested role. The directorial team just needs to see how certain people portray different roles so they can best cast the performance.
Once callbacks are through, the directorial team will decided who to cast in what roles. They may dismiss everybody to go home, or they may ask people to stick around if they feel confident they can quickly cast the show.
For what we do at the Medieval Fair, everyone gets a role. It may not be your top choice, but that is okay. If you wanted a Fighter role for the main performance but did not get one, you can perform a fight for our Song & Dance Show.
So what happens after auditions?
Well, hopefully, the fun! Shortly after auditions and releasing the cast list, we'll begin rehearsals and our AOA afternoon events for the next 6 months leading up to the Medieval Fair. So if you decide that you do not want to participate with us for any reason - lack of time, unhappy with your role, we're just not the group for you - we ask that you let us know ASAP. We do not want to unintentionally waste your time, and we would appreciate the extra time to figure stuff out on our end as well.
Frequently Asked Questions (as I imagine them):
Q: Do I need any previous acting experience?
A: No way! We'll give you tips and tricks for our performances, and work with you the whole time.
Q: Do I need any previous costumes or weapons?
A: While previous garb and weapons are appreciated, you do not need to possess any equipment prior to auditions. There are plenty of members who would be willing to lend you clothes for the season. If you decide that you want to make your own costume, we can help with that too!
Q: If I'm cast as a fighter, will I be using a sharp sword?
A: NO! NO! NO! Stage combat is the ILLUSION of danger. We only use blunted, not-pointed, stage combat grade weaponry. Check out Baltimore Knife and Sword or Starfire Swords for examples.
Q: When should I hear back about casting?
A: Casting all of the roles happens quickly. You should hear from someone either later that evening or within a few days.
Q: What will my rehearsal commitment be like? Will I have to be there the whole 6 months?
A: That depends on the script we’re performing and the character you are. Fighters will have to be there the whole 6 months, as well as characters like Arthur, Guinevere, and other major dramatic roles. A role with 1 line would not necessarily need to show up every week until later in the rehearsal season.
Q: Will I be required to participate in any other AOA shows?
A: Not unless you want to. We encourage everyone to learn more about the group, so you could try out the other shows to see if you would like to also perform in them.
Q: How much will it cost me?
A: We understand that this can easily become an expensive hobby, so we will do our best to try to alleviate as much of the financial strain as possible. Some members are willing to lend clothes, props, and weapons, so you do not necessarily have to purchase anything. Plus, we can hide certain elements of modern-day clothing to make it seem like you are dressed for the period.
If you have any further questions, reach out to us! We will be more than willing to answer any further concerns you may have.