by Nitra Gutierrez, Middle School and High School Program Associate
When I was a young actor, I approached auditions with a mix of anxiety, challenge and excitement. I would get nervous and feel the heat rise to my cheeks as my heart beat fast with anticipation. Once or twice, I decided that avoiding the audition process altogether was a safer choice than facing someone who would tell me whether I was ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ for the part.
It’s a high-stakes experience. When we want to perform, we want to share ourselves with the world. What could be more deflating than sharing yourself with a group of strangers only to be rejected? Performing is an act of tremendous courage. It takes a lot of courage to take risks. It takes guts to put yourself in front of people.
I empathize with young actors who enter any audition process. I know it can be scary, so I work to make our auditions as positive an experience as I can. It’s not competitive. It’s not stressful. Trying out for Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble feels more like attending a rehearsal than an episode of America’s Got Talent.
I think it’s most important for youth trying out for the program to decide whether they are a good fit for the ensemble. I ask them, “Do you enjoy this? Is this the kind of work you can commit to with your whole self? Do you see yourself giving the ensemble the time and dedication you’d give to an extra-curricular sport or a part-time job?”
People ask what ‘we’re looking for’ in Changing Lives auditions. My response is always the same. “I want team players, not divas or stars. I want strong voices but not necessarily the loudest voices in the room. I want kids who have something to say and are also ready to listen to others and collaborate artistically. Most importantly – I want youth who are willing to be themselves and commit fully to the play-making process.”
Changing Lives is a group of teen artist/activists who write and perform original theatre pieces about issues that affect teens. In the fall semester, we work together to build our performance skills and have meaningful discussions about the issues as we zone in on a topic. By spring, we turn all those skills into a full theatre piece that we tour to local middle and high schools. Key info about participation:
- Ensemble members must commit to the ensemble for the full school year and are paid a stipend for their work at the end of each semester.
- Rehearsals take place on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 7-9 p.m. at a location in central Austin.
- Students are responsible for their own transportation to rehearsals and performances.
Auditions for the 2012-2013 ensemble will be held on August 30th from 7-9 p.m., location TBA. To reserve a spot at auditions, please text your full name and the word “audition” to 361-537-6163.
If you have questions, please email Nitra@theatreactionproject.org for more information.
P.S. My first day of school was AMAZING! I conquered my fear of nuns and discovered that Sister Rogelia and Sister Rosario were fantastic story tellers.