Working with Actors


Students will demonstrate their ability to audition by participating in a cold-reading mock audition. Students will also demonstrate their ability to mark action beats by scoring their script.



Directing Plays textbook, audition cuttings chosen by you from the scripts the students have chosen, copies of the scene cutting from A Midsummer Night’s Dream Cutting.Lesson 7



Have the class arranged like a professional audition situation with you (the director) sitting behind a table and the students’ chairs facing a performing space. Using copies of scene cuttings that you chose from the scripts the student directors chose, call students up in pairs to cold-read the cutting. Depending on the size of your class, you can either have all of the students perform a cold reading or you may just have a few pairs perform.



Transition – Talk with the class about how they felt in the mock audition. What could you, the director, do to make the audition more “actor friendly”? How can you conduct the auditions so that the actor feels like he/she is given a fair shot? How do you calm nervous actors down so they can show off their best selves?



Instruction – Go over the casting points discussed in pages 118-125 of Directing Plays. Be sure that you have previously reviewed the material and will only focus on what you believe your students need in their particular situation as student directors:
• What to look for in auditions
• Audition material
• The place
• The process
• The actor “using” the director
• The director’s notes and symbols
• Audition nerves and forgetting lines
• The director’s reaction
• Callbacks
• Special skills, special problems
• Choosing



Discussion – Along with auditions, have the students share additional ideas of working with actors. Chapter ten in the textbook and pages 59-66 in Ball’s book will give you and your students plenty of ideas to work off of. Encourage them that one of the most important ways for directors to work with actors is to help them in developing their character and objectives.



Instruction – Explain to the students what a “beat” in a play is: a unit of conflict. See the textbook on pages 71-77 for guidance in demonstrating how to determine a beat. The following are ideas to look for to change beats:
• A change in subject
• A change in who is leading the scene
• Somebody enters or somebody leaves
• Someone finishes with one problem and takes up another
Once the beat is determined then the director can work with his/her actors on creating objectives for the characters in the beat. You may need to review objectives and tactics with your students or you can refer them to pages 77-79…although be sure to tell your students that Vaughn uses the term “intentions” which equals objectives and “adjustments” which is the same as tactics.



Guided Practice – Hand each student a copy of the attached scene cutting from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Read through the scene out loud together as a class. Then have the students individually divide the scene into beats and create an objective for Demetrius and Helena for each beat.


Call on four students to act as Demetrius and Helena and two students to be the director. Have them leave the classroom to rehearse their two scenes for ten minutes. While they are gone, create with the rest of the class a generic audition form that could be used for the student produced night-of-one-acts. You may need to guide the students to come up with some of the following information to include on the form, and you should be sure that the audition form fits what your school feels is appropriate:
• Name
• Contact information: address, phone, cell, and email
• Grade point average
• Prior acting experience
• Technical theatre abilities
• Special skills and abilities



Modeling – Have the directors and actors come back to the classroom and perform their two scenes. Discuss with the class the differences between the two scenes. Ask the directors what they did to work with their actors. Show the class how the same script and lines can be totally different depending on how the script is divided into beats and character objectives are developed.



Individual Practice – Assign students to analyze their script and divide it into beats. Have them work on their Character Analysis requirement as outlined for their Director’s Book. Give them the remainder of the time to work on their Director’s Books.


Remind students that their Director’s Books are due next class period. They should be prepared to present their books in five minutes to the rest of class by sharing the following requirements from their books:
• presenting the poster design
• summarizing the plot structure of the play
• conveying the concept
• exhibiting a mood picture (lighting)
• playing a section of theme music



Students can be assessed through their Midsummer analysis and participation in the mock auditions and directing exercise.