Since February I have been the one nervous and hoping looking at directors and casting agents for the next role, so yesterday was a strange change of pace when I sat in the director’s chair again, and had nervous hopeful actors looking at me. A friend and I are directing a musical for a student festival in Pretoria, and after planning, and starting with the music for a month we had our auditions yesterday.
The reactions are interesting when people are nervous, even though the students auditioning either knew myself and my co-director, or had even been directed by us previously. When I arrived at the audition venue I was immediately encircled by hopefuls, asking me the specifics, or any last minute advice before going in. I explained that Jesto, Gerrit and myself would be their panel. Naturally the girl standing in front of Gerrit loudly asking me “Who’s Gerrit” while someone promptly, and loudly, answered “The guy standing behind you”. And we were off to an interesting start.
As we are going to be devising the script for this show (Suikerbos) we decided to ask the students to do an improv as part of their audition. We asked a female and male student to do an improve where a guy tricks to pick a girl up in a bar. As a joke Jesto (my co-director) told them that if it led up to a kiss they should go with it. Before starting the improve the male student joking said to the female student while she was quickly putting on lipice “That’s right. Wipe that mouth clean” and it only escalated from there. Instead of using dialogue the male student grabbed the student behind the neck a few seconds into the improv and tried to pull her into a kiss, her first, I suppose survival reaction, was to slap him. No bars held. When he tried it again we immediately stopped the improv.
As the show is going to be in Afrikaans, we asked one of the English students to do his improv in Afrikaans with his fellow female student. This one was supposed to be about meeting up with you ex-girlfriend at a party. In the improv the female student asked him why he was with his new girlfriend. His response? “She has big boobs and you are platteland” (Literally translating into ‘flat lands’, but is the Afrikaans word meaning the country). We hastily ended their improv through our laughter.
Gerrit, our musical co-conspirator and music Masters student, had his first taste of drama, and the drama students. I somehow don’t think he’ll ever quite look at me the same.