A group of Baylor Theatre students traveled to New York City last weekend to participate in an audition weekend designed to get as many students as possible in front of scouts for theaters and schools across the nation. The students participated in a variety of auditions, from dance to acting to vocals.
Washington, D.C., senior Hanna Rose Hunt traveled with the group to the Big Apple. Like many of the students who attended, Hunt auditioned through the University Resident Theater Association, or the “URTAs.”
“Twenty to 50 schools will register, and then artists, actors, tech people and other people will come audition in front of these schools,” Hunt said.
Those auditioning are required to prepare monologues for their auditions, which only last for two minutes, Hunt said.
“I did two monologues,” Hunt said. “A monologue from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and I also did a monologue from this show called ‘Eggs and Bones.’ If you run over two minutes, there is a person who literally has a stopwatch and they’ll say, ‘thank You,’ and you have to leave.”
The benefit of these auditions is that students are able to audition for over 20 graduate programs at once, rather than traveling all around the nation to get a shot at a slot at one of the schools, Hunt said. It also helps expose students to schools they might not have considered previously.
However, it is not solely undergraduate seniors auditioning at the URTAs. Anyone interested in pursuing graduate studies is welcomed to audition.
“The thing about graduate school is, it’s not just students graduating from college,” Hunt said. “There were people of all ages.”
Although there was plenty of camaraderie, everyone attending is fully aware of the scarcity of spots available at each program, and the competition is intense, Hunt said.
“[It’s] insanely competitive,” Hunt said. “From basically 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., every two minutes exactly, they have someone go in and audition.”
Beyond the URTAs, Hunt also auditioned for New York University and London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
Murphy senior Kelsey Ward headed to the Big Apple for both URTA auditions and dance auditions.
“I signed up as a dancer specifically. We started with a dance call at 8 a.m. We finished done at about 4 o’clock.”
The dance auditions hosted around 40 entities, all seeking dancers to add to their companies, Ward said.
“It’s a good way to be seen by people in the industry,” Ward said. “There were some casting agents. There were a bunch of regional theaters from around the U.S. There were some cruise ship lines. Disney casting agents were there.
One challenging element of the theater business is that individual organizations are not always looking simply for talented actors and actresses. They are specific hair colors, body shapes and acting styles, among a plethora of other characteristics that can ultimately determine one’s acceptance or rejection, Hunt said.
Shortly after auditioning, some of schools and organizations attending URTA released their callback lists. According to Jasper senior Carson Shofner, the waiting period between the audition and the callback list being posted is extremely stressful.
“It was so stressful because we essentially just sat in a room, then went and auditioned for about 30 people,” Shofner said. “Then we waited for about five hours for the first round of callbacks to come out. Then after that, we waited for two and a half hours for the second round of callbacks to come out.”
Callbacks might entail anything from more monologue performances to sit-down interviews with representatives.
“That is the time for them to talk to you and get to know you because that’s a pretty big part of them extending that invitation—your personality,” Shofner said.
The time frame during which a school or company might contact an actor after an audition can vary greatly.
“I could hear back in a couple days, or I could hear back in a couple months,” Ward said. “They said that last year they had someone hear back from a theater company six months after their audition,” Ward said.
Another challenging element of the audition process can be the order in which you are set to audition. For one of hers, Ward was the first individual to audition, so she was unable to hear from other applicants about what to expect upon entering the audition space.
Though the audition process is intimidating, Baylor Theatre overprepares its students, which ultimately lead to a huge boost of confidence, Hunt said.
“When I actually got to New York and I was surrounded by other people auditioning, I realized that the Baylor students were some of the most prepared students,” Hunt said. “I felt completely confident. I had multiple monologues ready. I had no doubt that we were overly prepared, and that definitely has to do with Baylor.”