I love auditions. I always have and I always will. I will happily sit through day-long auditions. I recognise, however, that auditioning is a deeply flawed process with huge limitations.
For that reason, I also hate auditions. Their artificiality makes it difficult to understand how an actor works in a rehearsal and performance process. There’s also a hierarchical feeling to auditions that makes me uncomfortable. I see actors as co-creators rather than as puppets who execute my vision. I think I’m auditioning for them as much as they’re auditioning for me. But the reality is: I have more actors in front of me than I have roles to fill. Some will hear “yes” and some will hear “no,” and I hate that. The fact remains that I must find a way to make decisions about who will populate the plays I direct or produce.
I see actors as co-creators rather than as puppets who execute my vision. I think I’m auditioning for them as much as they’re auditioning for me.
Taylor Mac wrote a great article about casting a couple of years ago, saying that we should completely do away with auditions and instead cast people we get to know through work in the community or working with them directly. This is, of course, a fantastic way to get to know actors– I’d even say the best way. But it’s not something that can replace auditions outright.
I use a combination of both techniques. I cast people without an audition (or bring them straight to callbacks) if they’re someone I’ve worked with before, or someone whose work I’m familiar with. But I just can’t envision completely giving up auditions, because I think, as flawed as they are, they offer something unique to theatremaking that we can’t do without.