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Scene Dock Weekly: Casting

Andrew Billington Photography; Chicago; Oldham Coliseum Theatre

We get a lot of enquiries from aspiring theatre makers about casting. Here, our Administration department have given us some tips that should help, whether you’re interested in supporting the work of the theatre, or pursuing a career.

 

  • Look out for opportunities to be in a chorus. For some of our plays we need a chorus (also known as supernumeraries) to join our actors on stage to help make the show exceptional. Recently, we’ve welcomed members of the community on stage to join us for: The Ladykillers, Meat Pie, Sausage Roll and Dreamers. A chorus can be used for a variety of reasons on stage; in Meat Pie, Sausage Roll they were the chanting and singing football fans that helped turn the Coliseum’s stage into a packed football stadium. The chorus take part in rehearsals, working with the director and professional cast and perform on the main stage. We advertise these opportunities on our website, local press and social media. 

 

  • If you’re serious about becoming an actor, train professionally. Drama schools provide a range of training that will further your acting career including stage combat, dance, voice and more. There are opportunities to work with industry professionals and agents often attend final year graduate showcases with the intention of finding new actors to represent.

 

  • Sign up to Spotlight.  Spotlight connects professional performers with casting opportunities around the world and is used by agents and casting directors. There’s a subscription fee but the information it provides about casting and auditions is beneficial so it’s worth taking into consideration. Whether you use Spotlight or not, keep an up to date CV of work and make sure your playing age and headshots are accurate. You might be missed for roles you’d be good for or be called in for auditions for parts that aren’t relevant to you. Equally, if you can’t juggle fire or horseback ride, don’t put it on your CV – you’ll look a bit silly and it wastes your time, the director’s, and you’ll be taking an audition time that someone more suited to the role could have had.

 

  • Sign up to an agent. It does take some work to sign up to an agency but it’s worth working towards (invite them to see your work, send them your CVs and headshots too). You don’t have to have an agent to submit yourselves for projects but an agent will find them for you, submit you to their contacts and invite prospective employers to see your work. They’ll also manage your Spotlight CV for you.

 

  • Keep learning. The more you can do the more roles you’ll be suitable for. Perfecting accents, learning instruments and dance are all ways to help enhance your CV. Make your CV as reflective of your talents as possible, for example, if you’re also a spoken word performer, you might find a director keen to incorporate that into the performance you’re submitting for.

 

  • Watch as much as you can. Greater Manchester has an amazing variety of theatre with each venue, company or artist offering something different. Watching and reading as much as possible is a great way to learn what productions you’d like to be involved in and what roles you’d enjoy performing. It’s good see shows with post show discussions and meet the cast events. They’re usually free and give you an opportunity to chat to the director. It’s always good to let people know when you’ve enjoyed the production too!

 

  • Get involved in workshop and collaborative opportunities. We host an annual studio festival where emerging artists can get involved with new projects and workshops. This is a great way to meet other people and add to your CV. We also work with a range of theatres and companies in Manchester, including Manchester ADP, JB Shorts and Take Back Theatre, who work with new writers and a variety of actors to create new work. Keep an eye on their websites and social media to find out more.

 

  • Make your submissions smart. We accept submissions for all of our in-house Coliseum productions. If you’re on Spotlight, you can submit yourself for specific breakdowns or you can email your CV over to casting@coliseum.org.uk. We’re always happy to let you know which shows we’re currently casting for so feel free to drop us an email. It’s really helpful if you submit yourself for specific roles in specific plays, that way we can add you to the director’s list for consideration. Some roles are very popular and if you send an email saying you’re happy to be seen for any role in any play it might get lost amongst specific submissions.

 

  • Try not to take it personally when it doesn’t work out. Sometimes directors have a specific artistic vision for a production or they’re seeing a huge number of people for the same role so if it doesn’t work out try not to be disheartened. Being seen is a good thing as they may bear you in mind for something else! You can always ask (or ask your agent to ask) if there’s any specific feedback.

 

  • Invite people to see your work. Set up an invite list of casting directors, writers, actors and directors to come and watch your work. It’s good to let people know what you’re up to and give them the chance to come and see for themselves. Swap emails at networking events and join Facebook groups like Manchester Independent Network to discover new work, theatre companies and potential collaboration opportunities.

 

The Coliseum is committed to the development of emerging artists and celebrating local talent. Keep an eye on our website and social media for upcoming opportunities at the theatre. If you have any questions, please get in touch with us at casting@coliseum.org.uk