On an early Sunday morning, we were privileged to be invited to an audition workshop at the Old Vic conducted by Steve Winter for their latest community play, Housed. Each audition was 90 minutes long with 40-75 people participating in each session.
The main aim of these workshops was to get people to work together and see if they were able to take direction. The session began with a very energetic warm up which played around with eye contact and pacing. Music and rhythm was an important factor throughout the process as it kept the adrenaline pumping and helped to keep the participants focused throughout. Eventually, they were made to form teams of five and had to come up with a commonality amongst them to create a name. There was a lot of playing with energy and character and people opening up to one another in the span of five minutes which is rare in real life.
It was a quick taster of what it would be like to be on stage and deal with what is asked of you when you are in that position. They were given some basic pointers on spatial awareness and reminded about audiences and what they perceive. The participants were not professional actors but they were able to pick up on reactions and responses in their interactions with one another.
Another aim of this audition was to find the person who would act instinctively without overacting that normally comes in when people are made to read certain texts like Shakespeare. They were given lines from songs and they had complete freedom to say it in any order and to think about space and the interaction that they had with one another. Some people would just react to the other person’s line in a very naturalistic way and created a “watchability” factor when certain individuals performed.
It was a really interesting experience to watch and see how anyone can perform if given the right direction and how some people just have the instinct to build on the direction given to them naturally. As a writer, it made me think about the complexity of lines and how powerful a line can be if it is simple and delivered with direct intent. . I recently graduated from the University of York where I had weekly voice and movement classes, where we had to perform and act like a team in order to reap the benefit from those classes. It was great to see how they incorporated the physicality and basic acting exercises in order to create a sense of comradeship between people who had just met. This allowed me to reminisce about when I was first made do workshops like these with people I barely knew at the time. I now understand the importance of the work that we did and with this opportunity I got to see firsthand the process and the result at the Old Vic.