Saturday, March 24, 2018

How to Make Your Auditions Outstanding

Hello again! It's been a while since I've posted, but today I want to talk about theater auditions, and how you can make yours stand out. 

    Over the last few years, I have been to lots and lots of auditions, hoping to land a part in a show. When it comes to auditioning, I've received tons of good advice by talking to the directors whom I've worked with, but it has also helped to experiment on my own and find out what kind of audition is best for me, so if you want to see for yourself what works, go try it!

     In this article, I'm going to give you some tips on both choosing the best monologue, and displaying your best work on the day of the audition. I also want to talk a bit about the idea of competition, but I would like to start with the most important thing to keep in mind; be yourself, and have fun!! Auditions can be nerve wracking, especially if you don't have much theatre experience under your belt, but if you enjoy the experience, so will the casting committee. 

   When I choose an audition piece, I generally look for three things. Is the piece age and gender appropriate for me, does the tone/style of the piece match the show and/or the personality of the character I'm auditioning for, and does the piece allow for a wide range of emotional and physical changes? 

    Selecting a piece that is age and gender appropriate is important if you want your audition to be high quality. If you are a ten-year-old girl auditioning for Mary Poppins, for example, probably shouldn't chose a monologue for a character such as Bert, because the casting committee wants your audition to help them envision you as a character in the show, and not as an isolated performer reciting a speech. Of course, this is not mandatory, and if you have a piece that is great for your performance style, go for it, regardless of who it was originally performed by.

    Another awesome way to help the casting judges envision you in their show is having a piece whose style matches that of the show. Sometimes on an audition notice, it will give a direction like, bring a contemporary monologue. Follow this guideline, but don't think that you can get away with just any contemporary monologue for that audition. Do your research on the show and try to give the judges a performance as similar to the show as possible. One great example of this was my audition for A Christmas Carol almost four years ago. I wanted to play the Ghost of Christmas Past, and I went in with a monologue by Puck from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Both characters were magical and mischievous, so I gave the judges an easy connection between the two, and got the part. 

    The last big thing I want to mention about monologues is probably the most important. Have a wide range of physical and emotional chances and choices.  I cannot stress enough how hard it is to see an amateur actor stand up in an audition, and just recite something without moving or going anywhere mentally. To avoid this, look for a monologue where the character experiences some sort of change or shift, like a realization of something. Also, I really enjoy watching and performing pieces that have clear, defined movement in them. If I had to do some of my early auditions over again, I would use the stage so much more. You might be scared to make bold choices and big movements, but remember that the judges have never met you before, and this is your one shot to show them everything you can do. 

    Now a few words about audition day itself. 

    First, dress well for the audition. Wear clothes that give an accurate representation of who you are. Also, dress for movement. You never know if you might be asked to dance, or perform a stunt of some sort. Additionally, try to dress in the style of the character you're auditioning for. Even if it's as simple as wearing pink and purple to your Alice in Wonderland audition, you might subconsciously remind the casting judges of the Cheshire Cat. 

    Second, after you slate (introduce yourself) and begin your monologue, don't look the judges in the eyes. I know this seems really small and kind of an odd tip, but it has a lot of impact. If you get up on the stage, and stare me down the entire time, I will have a hard time taking notes, or remembering the great things about your audition, because I was focused on and intimidated by your eye contact. The best place to look is generally right above the judges' heads, so that they can see your face clearly. 

    Third, you are auditioning the entire time you are in the facility! From the moment you walk in that door and hand your resume to the person at the desk, to your last goodbye, the casting committee is watching you, so be on your best behavior. While an acting job might appear to just be about the acting, they also want to see if you are punctual, kind and encouraging to other auditioners, and easy to work with. 

    This leads me to my last point, about competition. 

    Since next month is my first time behind the casting table, I want every actor auditioning for my show to know this -- YOU ARE NOT COMPETING WITH THE OTHER ACTORS! You are only competing with the vision of the characters in my head. Maybe I want the lead villain to have a certain kind of voice or face, but if you can do better than my imaginary character, you don't have to do better than anyone else. I'm just a casting judge with a problem. Who has the potential to play these roles? I want you to be my solution. 

   Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. I hope they help you to ace your auditions, and to have so much fun! 

    If you have any specific questions about Wylie Acting Group's production of The New Guardians, let me know in the comments, or email me Can't wait to see your amazing work at auditions!

    Much love,


Monday, May 1, 2017

What Does the Second Amendment Imply About Gun Ownership?

As I have been studying the US legal system recently, I thought it would be appropriate to explore a bit of law interpretation today. The law we will be discussing is one of the most debated of all time, the second amendment to the US constitution. It states: 

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Over time, this law has mainly been interpreted in two ways. The first claims that the right of gun ownership should be given only for the purpose of a state organizing a military group. The second argues that gun ownership is not only a right of the militia but also the people. Which of these is more relevant and accurate today? To better understand the second amendment and its current implication, we must examine each of the arguments in further detail. 

The first statement we discussed is often associated with a liberal standpoint. It implies that there should be strict regulations on firearms and who may use them. Basically, the right of gun ownership should be for members of a state military group.

This is such a common interpretation of the second amendment for the following reason. When looking at the law, one may notice the phrase that begins it. “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state…” This part is called the prefatory clause. It appears to put a limit on gun rights by specifying who can carry a gun. Some historians have said that the framers of the Constitution intended this when they wrote the Constitution. They wanted to make sure that the states could defend themselves, not that individuals could defend themselves. Former Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens supported the latter in his dissent, in the famous case of DC v Heller, which gave citizens the individual right to own firearms. He said:

“The second amendment was adopted to protect the right of the people of each of the several States to maintain a well-regulated militia. It was a response to concerns raised during the ratification of the Constitution that the power of Congress to disarm the state militias and create a national standing army posed an intolerable threat to the sovereignty of the several States. Neither the text of the Amendment nor the arguments advanced by its proponents evidenced the slightest interest in limiting any legislature’s authority to regulate private civilian uses of firearms. Specifically, there is no indication that the Framers of the Amendment intended to enshrine the common-law right of self-defense in the Constitution.”

It seems liberals might be on to something when it comes to protecting our nation.
However, conservatives may have an argument that is just as supported. The second statement we discussed is attributed to them. Gun ownership is not only a right of the militia but also the people. 

The second clause in the second amendment, called the operative clause, is the main source of the conservative interpretation. “The right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

What one can infer from this, is that gun ownership is a right of the people, meaning everyone, for self-defense and protection. Supporters of this interpretation will say that the prefatory clause is a merely a reason for giving access to all. The amendment could possibly be rephrased to emphasize this important factor. Perhaps a bit like this:

Because a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. 

In 2008, DC v. Heller promoted this viewpoint and turned the country in a more conservative direction. This is not surprising, considering the conservative Chief Justice, John Roberts, who presided over the case. 

Now, let’s go over everything one more time to clarify. Liberals say that people should only be allowed to own firearms if they are serving in a state militia. Conservatives say that everyone should be allowed access to a gun for personal uses like self-defense. Although the government is promoting the conservative opinion currently, we are likely to see shifts in the future. There are a lot of people talking about this issue who are willing to act on their beliefs. Current events and new court decisions may shape the gun control issue, as well. 

I hope I helped you to better understand these interpretations of the second amendment. Please take a few minutes and leave a comment down below about your opinion on gun control and how you think the government should be handling it. Be sure to be respectful of other readers and their comments, so that nobody comes out feeling hurt. I may remind you that people who don’t like your nasty comments have gun rights as well. Thanks for sticking with me on these government-related adventures! See you next time! 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

While past topics on this blog may have felt removed from the every day, today we are going to address a problem that puts government into your hands. 

Most Americans are, or have been, involved in public education. In various states and times throughout U.S. history, the standards and curriculum for public education have come from different places. Currently 42 of the 50 states use a set of standards called Common Core. Common Core was created by a group of state legislatures and is encouraged nationally (through funding) by the Department of Education. In the 8 states which rejected Common Core, the school standards are developed closer to home, by state and local governments. Consider the following question:

Should we place educational decisions in the hands of the national government or with more local leaders?

Those in favor of federal education standards use these three main arguments:

First, enforcing education standards on a national level advances equity for students and holds them to the same high standards. For example, children in disadvantaged neighborhoods learn the same subjects, take the same tests, and receive the same level of education as children in wealthier areas. In fact, the idea of equal opportunity comes from the founding fathers and the Declaration of Independence itself!
Another reason why people argue in favor of federal school standards is that, if everybody is learning the same thing simultaneously, teachers can collaborate on the internet and at conferences. Sharing ideas that can be used right away everywhere strengthens the educational community. 

Lastly, because the federal government oversees interstate commerce, and education is related to interstate commerce, Washington can enlarge its power using the elastic clause.  As an example of how education is impacted by interstate commerce, lots of Americans move often, traveling around the country for work. If these migrant citizens have school-age kids, the government wants to ensure that there are no holes in those students' education. 

Although these arguments seem persuasive, others argue that locally developed standards provide a better education for our students.  Their arguments include the following: 

First, programs like Common Core are unconstitutional, they argue, because the constitution does not give the federal government control over what schools teach. Any power not given to the federal government in the Constitution is left automatically to the states in the 10th Amendment.  So the fact that Common Core (or any past standards) are nationally managed should not be allowed. 

Additionally, because federal bureaucrats are busy in Washington, they can't know everything about the lives of people in each individual state, city, or school district. Local leaders have more perspective than than the federal government about needs and interests of local communities. Districts can create special programs to emphasize jobs that are popular in the local economy.  Students can read local authors and study local geography.  Teachers can respond quickly to shifts they notice among their students.  While b
ureaucrats can make “educated guesses” (no pun intended), they can't have the accuracy of people who live near and interact daily with students. 

Who would you like to see handle U.S. school standards? If you haven't thought about this before, I hope this helped you to better understand one part of the ongoing debate about schools.  This is truly something that affects all of us!  

If you have any additional thoughts on this topic that you’d like to share with me, or topic ideas for the future, let me know down in the comments. I’d love to hear from you! Just remember to be considerate and have fun!