Actors are fragile creatures at the best of times, and so at the worst of times – that is to say, during auditions – hysteria can set in. Auditions are the actor’s equivalent of the writer’s blank page, or the sprinter’s pause before the starting gun goes off. And so tensions ran high for the fifty students who, on Thursday, August 15th, turned up to audition for ISM’s High School
production of Nikolai Gogol’s comedy The Inspector General. The process was fairly simple: students shambled – some grim, some excited – to the Fine Arts Theatre after school. They were given a sheet of paper listing all of the major characters of the play and some scenarios involving those characters. After a few words from director Tami Monsod, students teamed up or paired off and spent fifteen minutes improvising and practicing a scene based on one of the scenarios. When the allotted fifteen minutes were up, students returned to the theatre and performed their scenes for each other and for the fateful jury sitting in the back. The callbacks that took place on Friday, August 16th followed the same format, except that roles and scenarios were assigned according to the director and assistant-directors’ instincts. The students were given the usual fifteen minutes to rehearse, but when they re-entered the theatre to perform for the jury, they found the stage filled with furniture. Never having practiced with set pieces before, potential cast members were expected to effectively incorporate a ladder, a couch, and a table into their scenes.
Understandably, the improvisational aspect of the auditions made the process much more daunting. One senior says he was “terrified” by the “high-pressure environment”. While improvisation may have added to the stress of auditions, the format was not chosen out of sheer malice. Ms. Monsod and Assistant Director Daniel Toze explain, the reason for holding improvised auditions was that The Inspector General’s scripting process would be based off of improvisation. The production will be formulated “around the structure of Gogol’s script,” says Ms. Monsod, but the final script used will be original, written by the cast and crew.
The cast finalised, rehearsals beginning, and scripting under way, all involved are eager to dive headfirst into this year’s high school play. Everyone has brought terrific energy to the production, the set is going to be stunning, and a good time will be had by all. Be sure to catch Tami Monsod’s rendition of Nikolai Gogol’s The Inspector General, opening October 17th.
Article by: Sam Chapman
Photographs by: Charlene Mamaril