Tag Archives: pianofight productions

The Other Side Part 3: Callbacks

22 Feb

If you want to become a better auditioner… hold your own auditions! I swear I am still learning so much from being on the other side. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, someone throws me for a loop.

For instance,

Show up! If you’re given an audition appointment- you honer it. And that doesn’t mean 25min after your scheduled callback time. Sorry, buddy, got other things to do! And, no, I wont reschedule.

Make a choice! Now I really know what acting coaches, casting directors and the like mean when they say how important it is for actors to just make a choice, any choice, when they audition. After seeing auditioner after auditioner just come in and give this lukewarm read that was more or less the general mood of the piece, the actor that came in and did the work of coming up with a choice would undoubtedly stand out. Even if that choice was weird, or didn’t follow the logic of the rest of the sides, it didn’t matter. We were just excited to see someone commit to something! To watching something actually happen on stage.

No excuses! When we give you a re-direction please don’t get defensive. Usually it’s a good thing, anyway, because it means we actually want to see more of your work. But if we say “try it like this…” and you say “well, how am I supposed to do that if I don’t know the rest of the play!” then we think “have you never auditioned before?!” Usually sides are just that, sides, not a whole script! You don’t have to tell me that you haven’t seen the other pages– I know, I’m the one who sent them to ya! I don’t care if what you do doesn’t make sense in the rest of the play. All I care about is that you show me something, anything. Like I said before, make a choice.

Hold your script! These are callbacks, so yes, it’s best if you’ve memorized your lines. But if you don’t know the lines 110% then, please, spare us. We wont hold it against you that you’ve got your script in hand. A solid performance with a script is better than a rocky performance without the script.

Bring energy! Don’t suck it out of the room. There were some people who, maybe they were good, I have no idea, because they came in with such low energy I struggled to pay attention to what was going on. Then there were people who, may not have been the greatest actor in the world, but had such great energy when they walked into the room, when they were playing the part, when they were receiving the re-direction that they instantly went to the top of my list.




Related Reading: The Other Side &The Other Side Part 2

The Other Side Part 2: Auditions

2 Feb

As the producing process continues for ShortLived 3.0, I am learning more and more! This experience, being on the other side, is definitely invaluable. This past weekend we held our first round of auditions for our 3-month long show. After the long weekend of auditions, the directors all joked we could have our own actor’s workshop to teach everyone what not to do. I think we were all slightly shocked at all of the acting faux pas that were made. No wonder everyone thinks they can be an acting coach or hold audition workshops!

Here are some of the audition no-no’s that repeatedly came up:

Coming in without headshot and resume already in hand, ready to be handed to the casting director.

(As in, spending the first minute fumbling around in your purse/briefcase/bag trying to find it while we all stare at you in awkward silence.)

Coming in without headshot and resume stapled together.

(I am not your mother, I can’t take care of it for you. And if you can’t take the little effort it takes to staples two pieces of paper together, how do I know you’re going to put any effort into my production?)

Coming in without professional headshot and resume.

(Rather, a computer print-out of a random picture your friend took three years ago in which you think you look good)

Coming in without headshot and resume.

(Yup, believe it or not, some of the actors waltzed right in without anything in hand at all. Some said, simply, they did not have one. Others said they were in a rush and didn’t have a chance to grab it. While others said they completely forgot. Whatever the reason, we don’t care.)

Coming in without a headshot that looks like you.

(Some people looked way older than their headshot. Some looked way prettier in their headshot, some looked way prettier in person. Some had personalities wildly different than that conveyed in their headshot. A good portion of the people who walked in the room simply did not match the picture they handed to us, which can be problematic– we may not remember you because the headshot is so different from you.)

Performing your monologue without first telling us your name, the title and author of the piece.

(Yes, some of the actors literally began their monologue the second they walked into the room. It was just sort of weird more than anything else.)

Performing a monologue you made up but pretending it’s from a published play.

(First of all, I’d steer clear of performing anything you’ve written. That’s great you have an original piece. And even if it’s really fantastic, save it for your one-woman show or something, it’s not for the audition room. But if you are going to perform something you’ve made up, please say so! Don’t pretend it’s from an actual play)

Performing a monologue from a monologue book without any idea what play it’s from.

(I was surprised at how many people had the balls to perform something without knowing what it was from and to actually tell me that. I don’t want to know that you’re performing some piece you found in a book last week for class.)

Performing a monologue without knowing where it’s from at all.

(Some actors had no idea what their monologue was from at all. Some pretended as if the title and playwright just slipped their mind, but others would say they simply did not know.)

Performing a monologue about sexual molestation, sexual fetishes or rape.

(And I’m talking on at least three separate occasions. I was shocked at how many actors chose inappropriate material. I am a very open person and love theater that pushes the envelope, but for an audition there is a fine line and many crossed it. I want to be paying attention to you and your brilliant performance, not being completely insulted by the misogynistic

Performing a dramatic monologue and not having a comedic one ready just in case.

(A few actors we felt had potential, it’s just the dramatic monologue they chose wasn’t that great. But when we asked if they could do a comedic one, they were stumped. Don’t come unprepared! Be ready for anything!)

Performing a Shakespeare monologue when the only specification we gave was “contemporary”.

(Not to mention, this is a playwriting competition– that means new plays! How is Shakespeare relevant here??)

Performing your monologue and then asking “So, what’s the project?”

(It’s insulting! Trust me, I know that with so many submissions and emails, a project can get lost in the shuffle. But I hope to god that once you’ve confirmed an audition, you do a little research and at least know what you are auditioning for.)

Leaving the room the second you finish your monologue.

(What’s the rush? Do we smell? What if we had some questions for you? Some actors just rushed out as soon as they were done, which made me think, I guess you don’t really care about this project then. Sends a bad message.)

Walk straight into the audition room, while another audition is going on.

(To be fair, this only happened once. But, still, I was shocked! Why would you open a closed door clearly marked as the audition room when the notice next to the sign-in sheet clearly says to sign-in and wait until someone gets you?)

And the biggest, most prevalent audition faux pas of all…  not showing up for the audition at all!

(I was anticipating a bunch of flakes. But it was still really frustrating and discouraging to only see less than half of the scheduled auditioners come in. I appreciated the few who did take the second to email their cancellation. But that was only a select few. The rest were just no-shows! It’s disrespectful. You never know when something like that is going to come around and bite you in the ass.)




Related Reading: The Other Side & The Other Side Part 3

The Other Side: Submissions

26 Jan

My production company, PianoFight, has been knee-deep in casting for our upcoming project ShortLived 3.0. It’s a 3-month long playwright competition held in SF and in LA, with 8 shorts every Friday and Saturday night. And 4 new shorts being introduced every other week. That means- we need lots of actors! It’s been such a learning experience going through the many electronic submissions from the top casting sites as we pick and choose those we want to see for the auditions.

Being on the other side has taught me a few things…

A good headshot goes a long way. It’s amazing the amount of snap judgements you make form a little 2×2 thumbnail. If the picture is black and white, I immediately thought– what century is this actor from?! What serious actor doesn’t have a color headshot by now? If there were multiple shots in the photo session but they were all variations of the same picture, I thought, why am I looking at these? Picture 2 or 3 doesn’t tell me anything that picture 1 hasn’t already. If there were a bunch of weird character shots, but nothing that told me what the actor looked like normally, I thought, well this person just does gimmicks and characters and wouldn’t be able to do theater.

Less is more. If the actor left a novel in the “notes” section (for which we specifically wanted just what day they were available to audition) I thought, this person can’t even listen to directions! And aside from that, who has the time to read 5-paragraph essay on why we should choose them for the part? Sorry, pal, that novel just cost you an audition.

Follow directions. I now totally understand why casting directors emphasize no double submissions. It’s so annoying and hard to keep track when you have the same people applying for the same part through different avenues. Did I already give this person a time slot? Did I already reject this person and they are just submitting again? You making our job more difficult makes us less inclined to consider you.

So, CD’s, I feel for you. Next time I submit a project, I understand how all those submissions can be overwhelming. I’m sure the amount of responses we received doesn’t even come close to the amount for a national commercial or feature film, so I can only imagine. I will take caution with every project I submit to and how I submit. This is our career, after all. We should take care in all that we do with it.




Related Reading: The Other Side Part 2 & The Other Side Part 3

ShortLived 3.0 Submissions, for Writers

13 Jan


ShortLived 3.0, a playwriting competition featuring local playwrights and theater groups scored by audiences, runs every Friday and Saturday night at 8PM at The Asylum Lab, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd. (at Vine), Los Angeles and at Off-Market, 965 Mission St (between 5th and 6th), San Francisco, from April 2- June 26. Tickets are $20 at the door and online at www.pianofight.com.

Past winners include Daniel Heath who penned the original “Fork Off On Your Own Forking Adventure Which You’ve Forked: FORKING!”, which played to sold out audiences last January and Bill Bivins, the most celebrated playwright from the 2009 SF Fringe Fest, whose full-length play “The Position” debuts February 4th at Off-Market Theater.

Only playwrights from the Los Angeles area and San Francisco Bay Area may submit. If you meet this criterion, you may submit any style of short play – sketch comedy, dramatic, or something in between are all welcome – so long as it has not been fully produced anywhere else, and it does not run longer than 12 minutes.

The script will be directed and performed by PianoFight company members.

If the piece wins the round, it will automatically clinch a spot in the Championship Weekend. It will also stay in competition for subsequent rounds until it scores in the bottom four pieces.

If the piece does not win the round, but places in the top four by the end of the round, it will stay on to compete again in the next round for a chance to clinch a spot in the Championship Weekend.

If the piece scores in the bottom four by the end of the round, it will be dropped from competition, and the playwright may submit again if he/she would like.

LA submissions can be sent to ShortLivedLA@gmail.com.

SF submissions can be sent to ShortLivedSF@gmail.com.

Please put you’re your name and “Playwright Submission” in the subject line.

NOTE: Submissions should not be prop heavy or require too much tech/sets. There is no compensation for competing, however there is also no fee to submit. Compensation will be given in the form of the Grand Prize.