The process of this project is finally underway! I have had auditions and created my cast. Auditions were so much fun. I had a great turnout and there were so many people that I was excited to work with.
I had people audition in groups of six so that I could see how they would work with other people and how they could contribute to a group. When the groups first came in, I had them do an exercise in Viewpoints. This was created by Anne Bogart. I find it is a good way to see how people move, how creative they can be, and how willing they are to make bold decisions and take risks. In the exercise, there is an imaginary square which is divided into nine smaller squares by imaginary grid lines on the floor–my stage manager told everyone to think of it as a giant tick-tack-toe board inside a square. I asked the people auditioning to start moving on this grid and not to stray from the lines or talk. While they were moving, I told them to focus on their spacial relationships, architecture, shape, gesture, repetition, duration, kinesthetic response, and tempo. I talked about each of these things individually. Spacial relationship refers to how close or far away they are from other people or objects in the room, where they are on the grid, and where they are in the room. Architecture refers to how their shape affects or is affected by other people or objects in the room and what shapes they can make with those resources. Shape refers to what shapes they can make with just their bodies. Gesture refers to and movements they do within whatever shape, architecture or movement they are doing. Repetition refers to what things they repeat, or if they want to repeat thing, or if they want to repeat what others are doing. Duration refers to how long their movement takes, how long it takes to get into a certain shape, or how long they want to repeat something; also, how long they stay in one place on the grid. Kinesthetic response refers to the emotional response that they have because of their movements or because of other people’s movements and what that makes them do. Finally, tempo refers to how long they stay with a person, how long they repeat something, or stay in a shape, or walk the same way; also, how long it takes them to get from one place on the grid to another. After we did this initial work with viewpoints, I had them answer a question with the viewpoints. Because our theme is love in different cultures, I either had them answer a question about giving or receiving love, or about culture.
After viewpoints, I did an improv activity with the groups. I did two different ones, it just depended on what group they were in! One of the improvs was an activity that we did in my Commedia dell’arte class at Kingston University in London. In this activity, everyone had to choose an animal that they knew really well (there were a lot of cats!). They had to embody this animal and find all of the little idiosyncrasies that are specific to the animal. They were then told to interact with the other animals in the room, thinking about where their animal is on the food chain and how it would fare in this environment. They also had to find a sound for their animal. Next, they were told to slowly humanize this animal, still keeping a few idiosyncrasies that make us recognize the animal. Once the human-animal characters were complete, I split the groups of 6 in half and gave them a premise for an improv skit. One person would be interviewing for a job, one would be the boss conducting the interview, and one would be the receptionist who greets the person interviewing. These were incredibly entertaining. In the other improv, the entire group stood in a circle and told a story together one word at a time (one person said one word and then it moved around the circle). After they created their story, they had to act it out.
In the last few groups, I added one more improv activity. I wanted to see how much people were willing to offer of themselves in a group situation. I told everyone to split up and work on a story to tell us individually. This story was to be about a moment that they think of when they think of the word love, and they had to tell it physically. This activity was very helpful in deciding whether or not to cast many new people that I had never seen before.
At the end of the night, I was very pleased with how auditions went. Though I still struggled with choosing my cast, I am very pleased. The difficulty came in wanting to work with so many of the people that had auditioned.