Students will have the opportunity to showcase their singing and acting skills Friday, Aug.19, and Saturday, Aug. 20, at the Theatre and Dance department auditions for the upcoming theater season.
Many of the department’s theater projects and shows will be cast from these auditions, including “Flyin’ West” by Pearl Cleage, which has an all-black cast.
The play focuses on three sisters who have moved to Kansas in 1898 to escape Jim Crow laws and other forms of racism in the south.
“Flyin’ West” will be directed by university faculty member Quinton Cockrell. Cockrell, assistant professor of performance who teaches acting and diction classes, said that the department finally has the right resources to direct an all-black show.
“There have been directors here that have wanted to do an all-black show before now,” Cockrell said. “We’re all excited about it, and it’s going to happen more often.”
Cockrell also said that he can tell within a few moments if the student is right for the production.
“I look for guts,” Cockrell said. “I look for people who aren’t afraid to show me strong movement, and who own the text.”
Another show that will be cast from this Friday’s auditions is the musical “Cabaret,” which will be directed by playwriting and musical theater professor Tommy Newman.
“Cabaret,” written by writing team Kander and Ebb, is set in Berlin in 1931. The play explores the impact of the Nazi party on the community and staff of a local Cabaret club.
Newman will be casting seven leads and roughly 10 chorus members for the production.
“The scene work in this play is very complex,” Newman said. “There’s a lot of depth to these characters — the people in the show need to be actors first and singers second.”
For the chorus, Newman said he is looking for dancers who can be precise and expressive.
“They need to develop character in their movement,” Newman said. “There’s not a lot of speaking in the chorus; who you are is determined by your physicality.”
One of the auditioning students, Payton Buchin, said she plans to showcase how she can fit into the world of “Cabaret.”
“I’ve always felt that if you can do it, show it,” said Buchin, a senior theater education major from Dothan. “In the professional world, if you go into an audition, you’re going to want to cater your audition to what you’re auditioning for.”
Sam Hankins, a sophomore theater major from Birmingham, agrees that material selection is a big part of the audition’s success.
“The most difficult part about auditioning, for me, is finding monologues that represent me the best,” Hankins said. “Every time I perform for the faculty, I try to show them material they haven’t seen before.”
“I want to see what you do best,” Cockrell said.“I’d like to see two pieces that show two different sides of you — show us who you are.”
Cockrell said that two monologues, or a monologue and a song, are preferred. However, theater students say that the audition process is not just for directors to see talent.
“Some people may be able to sing like one type of character, but they look like another type,” said Nathan Maxwell, a senior theater major from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. “Appearance is a lot of it.”
Many student-directed pieces will also be cast out of these auditions. Maxwell, who is studying directing, said that hard workers are the best students to work with.
“That’s a big thing for me,” Maxwell said. “When I cast, work ethic is the first thing I look at. I want to work with people who will readily put in the time.”
Other projects that will be cast from these auditions include “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams and “The Comedy of Errors” by William Shakespeare.
Auditions will begin at 6 p.m. in the Trojan Center Theatre on Friday, Aug. 19. All Troy University students are invited to audition, regardless of major. Callback lists will be posted later Friday evening, with callbacks being the following Saturday.