The Dartmouth High Theater Company (DHTC) will be hosting online auditions on October 28 for their fall show of It’s A Wonderful Life. Unlike previous years this audition process will be new to students and instructors running the program.
Dennis Lawrence, the director of the DHTC, hoped the 2020 spring musical, We Will Rock You, would be pushed to December this year. Unfortunately due to the restrictions of Covid-19, large gatherings aren’t allowed, therefore We Will Rock You couldn’t be used for the fall show. “It was so heartbreaking to have to cancel our spring musical,” said Mr. Lawrence. “We opted instead to do a virtual live stream presentation of the classic holiday show It’s A Wonderful Life.”
Auditions for the show will run virtually on the platform Google Meet. Students auditioning will enter the main Meet to fill out audition forms and prepare for their audition. Shirley Byers, the music director of the DHTC, said the instructors will “audition people individually in a breakout room where they will read an excerpt from the play.”
During the audition process, students will be let into the breakout room one at a time where Mr. Lawrence and Ms. Byers will be waiting for each student to begin their audition. “The cast list will be posted on our Facebook page as normal,” said Mr. Lawrence.
The fall production is a radio play which means roles are read from paper and effects are added to the show. “The performances will deal more with emotional delivery of your lines and how to relay feelings in what you are reading,” said Mr. Lawrence. This way audiences will still witness and believe the characters being brought to life through the written play.
Senior Emerson Clarke hopes the energy brought to auditions and the constant excitement or anxiousness felt by students will stay the same as years prior. “I hope that really nothing changes, and it can be as normal and fun as any other show we have done in the past,” said Clarke.
Many hopes and worries surround the idea of online auditions, but most of all, students and participants in the company will miss many aspects of being in person.
Junior Grace Rose said, “I am definitely gonna miss being able to just hang out with my friends and the overall show process.”
Clarke will also miss interacting with classmates and instructors when attending the auditions. “I will miss being able to see my friends at auditions and practicing together and being able to read a scene in person with someone and not have a video lag to stop the intensity of the scene,” said Clarke.
“What I will miss the most about in-person auditions is the nervous/excited energy that students get and being able to read their body language,” said Ms. Byers. “Auditions can be really expressive in person, but students may hold back online.”
Although online auditions are very different than in person auditions, there are some positives to the new experience. In some ways the comfort that students feel with auditions have increased. “I won’t have to worry about the stress before walking into the room and all eyes on me before I audition,” said Rose.
Clarke also sees a positive side to the online audition process. “I can be at home with the script in front of me and know the lines are right there if I mess up,” said Clarke.
In some ways students still have worries about how the event will run. “One thing I am less comfortable with is the worry about Wi-Fi connection, and if mine will be stable enough to get through the whole audition smoothly,” said Rose. Luckily convenient communication can be accessed through the DHTC’s Google Classroom where information is posted and contact information for participants can be found if a student cannot get into the audition meet.
“We hope that each actor will bring to their audition the same energy level, showing vocal emotion and non-verbal communication, the use of your facial expression,” said Mr. Lawrence. The different ways online auditions can affect a student’s performance will be noticed during this process. However Mr. Lawrence said, “We (the DHTC) are excited to see how it works out.”
One big way online auditions could affect a student’s experience are the distractions at the home of students and the dependence on internet connection. “Acting is reacting, and sometimes when there’s a time lag in the video or audio, those expressive moments that can be really magical can get lost,” said Ms. Byers.
Overall students are excited to see how this new audition process will play out and the surprises it will bring. The involvement of backstage participants and the tech crew is much hoped for as well. “I really hope tech will be involved because they are such a huge part in the theater company, and a typical DHTC show would not be the same without them,” said Clarke.
Online auditions might come as a surprise considering other school activities are being done in person with COVID restrictions and precautions. However, this gives many seniors and newly joining freshman hope for this years’ and future DHTC productions.
“Online auditions is the last thing I thought we would have to do but it still means a production whether it’s online or in person. It still gives us a little bit of theater,” said Rose.
The final radio play will be shown through a live stream for a $5.00 donation to the DHTC. “When you make the donation the viewer will receive an access code that allows them to view the production,” said Mr. Lawrence, the director of the production. For more information about this year’s fall show of It’s A Wonderful Life visit the DHTC Facebook page or the DHTC website.