I have now contacted all the 51 candidates that applied to work with me on the Syncretic Theatre Lab, or Performance Research Tests, that make up the practical aspect of my research. While I’m delighted at the number of applications received, I’m a little puzzled about the lack of interest from within Scotland. I had the casting call up on the Creative Scotland opportunities website, posted on Scotland-specific facebook groups and @ Scottish theatre-related twitter accounts and by the end of the first week I had received zero applications. I then expanded my search and posted the ad on Mandy (formerly known as Casting Call Pro) on week 2 and the applications started to come in, but the vast majority were from London-based actors. Now, there were a couple of problems with that: one of a practical nature and another, moral. On the practical level, my concern was simply that although I’d budgeted to offer the performers a fee, I would have no means of offering them travel and accommodation in Glasgow. I expected that most people applying would be from the central belt of Scotland, so that was me telt. On a moral level, I felt a little dispirited after so many years advocating for the quality of Scottish-based performers and how we do not/should not need to cast from London. If you are a Scottish-based actor who was aware of the call and have not applied, I’d like to hear from you – no judgement, it’s really so I can review this part of the process and use feedback for the future. Did you not apply because you the project didn’t appeal to you, or you didn’t think you would be considered (why?), or was the fee too low, or was it because the dates weren’t set in stone and you had other commitments? It would be very helpful if you could let me know by either commenting on this post or emailing me directly to email@example.com.
So, back to the process… the application period was open from the 10th November to the 22nd December 2017. After that, I gathered the 51 applications and printed them and read through every single one with two colleagues that have worked with me on selection panels before. Between the three of us, we shortlisted about half the candidates to audition, as I only get one day and can’t possibly see everyone who applied.
There was a good range of experience and training in the applications and we strove to come up with a selection of auditionees whose expertise was directly relevant to the project, but also who we felt would both benefit from and contribute to the lab in a productive way. Piece of advice for actors out there applying for research and development projects: do read about the project and the people involved with it and tailor your cover letter accordingly. Don’t just send a template. I received a few cover letters stating they would be interested in being considered for a role in this production. This is not a production. Generic, one-line statements of interest didn’t get very far with the panel, either, as I will need people to give me chat back. If you’re not putting the effort into writing a cover letter, I’m likely to think you won’t put effort into the workshops and discussions either.
The audition will comprise of a 3-hour group workshop, followed by individual interviews. Shortlisted candidates have been asked to be on time, wear comfortable clothing and footwear that doesn’t restrict movement, and to prepare a short text and a short song (up to 3 minutes) in any language. I am interested in seeing how they work collaboratively and I’m more interested in why they’ve chosen the specific song and text they come up with than in the delivery of both.
I am very excited about meeting new people and seeing some familiar faces and getting them all to prance around a room together. I still haven’t confirmed the actual lab dates in Feb-Apr as I’m waiting to hear back from our room bookings team, but if you’re reading this and have an interest in following the development of the project, keep an eye on this blog and/or join the FTL mailing list for invitations to observe workshops.