Into the archive: Q&A session with Wendy Spon

ideastapnational theatre

Before I deleted my old blog, I wanted to keep this post alive- dated 2012. Ideastap invited me to attend their Q&A session with National Theatre’s lovely Head of Casting, Wendy Spon. Here are my notes from the event:

Notes for wannabe Casting Directors:

  • Attend as many theatre productions as you can
  • Go to Fringe rather than West End
  • Constantly search for talent
  • You are only in a position of influence as the power belongs to the Director
  • Be selective and realistic when choosing your actors
  • Discuss upcoming actors with others to see if there is an interest in their work
  • Always bear your ‘chosen’ actors in mind whilst watching productions
  • Make sure you keep in mind what the Director wants for their production
  • Show the Director all the possibilities through the range of actors
  • Make informed opinions about actors
  • You will fall into casting
  • To work in casting: Get experience with agents or offer your friends to help cast their productions or work as someone’s assistant

Notes for actors:

  • Get in a theatre production and tell us you are in it!
  • Possibly send us a show reel (But we don’t always have time to look at them)
  • Question regarding drama school vs. experience– it totally depends on what you are casting! However, there is more of a sway towards drama school because they develop the much needed technical skills. Spon is aware that some individuals can’t go to drama school due to the tough times, but encourages individuals to get that professional training.
  • Do the fringe shows – you may be still considered
  • Reading monologues for auditions is artificial as you can’t judge on the actor’s abilities. It’s very rare being asked to perform a monologue.
  • Coming from an ethnic minority, you’re at an advantage!
  • However, no matter what ethnicity you belong to, you’ve got to have an interesting quality
  • Remember if you face rejection, it’s not because of your acting abilities, you haven’t got the right look for the selected part. E.g. A blonde hair boy in a dark haired family
  • Research into the National Theatre’s productions if you want to be considered
  •  Keep your Spotlight/CV updated!
  • When applying, good idea to send both letter and email

What makes a good audition?

  • Someone who has done their prep
  • Apparent hunger and interest in the job
  • Demonstrates their homework regarding the director and his/her production
  • BE YOURSELF!
  • Ask the director questions before you begin your reading
  • Don’t learn the script as your character is a work in progress
  • Casting director wants you to get the job- you wouldn’t be called in if you weren’t there for a reason
  • Don’t make excuses when going to the audition- e.g. I haven’t had much time to read the script or I’ve stayed up til 3am reading this script etc

Notes for both wannabe Casting Directors and actors- Questions to ask whilst looking through actors’ applications:

  • Who has the actor worked with?
  • Is there a repeat of director? (if there is that’s a good sign! The director wanted to work with them many times)
  • Have they performed in a range of productions e.g. professional and fringe?
  • Are there any recognisable venues?
  • Phone up the past directors and ask what the actor was like working with