"Play your Part"
Theatre Arts at James Madison High School, Vienna, VA
Parents of Auditioning Students
SO YOUR STUDENT IS AUDITIONING, EH?
There are many positive advantages to participating in auditions. Students who perform in auditions regularly generally work harder on their lesson assignments (and thus become better students in general) when they have a deadline and a goal. Students learn what it takes to perform under pressure. This can be a very valuable tool when they must complete a task by the deadline for work or school. They will be performing in an unfamiliar setting sometimes with unfamiliar students. Students get a chance to have their performance evaluated. And they will encounter the excitement and thrill of putting together a way to package themselves and share that excitement with all of the other students who are participating.
So your student is auditioning for the school play! Congratulations! It takes a great deal of courage and preparation on their part to do so. You may be thinking, “how can I help?" Here are some time tested things you can do to help your student enjoy and learn from this unique high school experience.
READ THE AUDITION SUGGESTIONS
The audition suggestions are found on the main links at the top of this website (Auditions). Read them along with your student. Be sure your student reads the entire section. Some are suggestions but many are requirements. Pay close attention to the advice given there so you know what your student knows and are expecting the same things.
HELP YOUR STUDENT FIND MATERIAL
Many beginning theatre arts students are not familiar with a wide variety of plays or songs from musicals. If you have a favorite play or a favorite role in a play or a favorite song from a musical, your student will benefit from that knowledge. Take them to a library and look in the 800 section for plays to choose a monologue from.
AUDITIONING CAN TAKE A LONG TIME
Even though the audition slots are only 15 minutes during the week, the callback process can take hours. Your student may not be called back but if they are they may be up at Madison quite late during the callback process. If we could shorten this lengthy process, we would, but we are trying to give the largest amount of students an opportunity to shine and that takes a lot of time.
MUSICALS CAN TAKE EVEN LONGER
Musicals add the dimension of singing and dancing to the auditioning process and will take more preparation time and more time during the week to complete.
Auditioning requires a lot of pre-work and a lowering of personal barriers on the part of your student. They may spend hours during the week becoming a character, learning and then singing a show tune in front of strangers, learning and performing a dance and enduring a grueling callback process. All of this is great fun, but not getting cast at the end of the process isn’t any fun. However, this is a very real possibility. Getting cast is not easy. There are a lot of auditioners and only one student in each role. If your student is not cast, disappointment is normal, despair and depression shouldn’t be. Your student cannot rely solely on peers and friends to help them through this disappointment since some of their friends may have been cast and others will not possess the emotional maturity and wisdom you can bring. Be sure that you bring that perspective back to your student so they can process the disappointment and not allow it to turn into a longer depression or resentment.
Being in a production requires a lot of time and focus. Academics always outweigh production requirements. However, understanding the expectations and obligations of being in a production are key to your student’s growth and success. Reading, understanding and then signing the Production Contract should be done by both you and your student. Signing the Contract signals to MAD Drama that both you and your student are joining us on a learning journey unlike any other in high school. Signing the contract says that your student is accepting the performance or technical role offered and that you are accepting your role in supporting both your student and MAD Drama as a whole.
Congratulations! You have been cast in the role of PARENT in a MAD Drama production! If your student is cast as a Performer or selected as a Technical Crew Chief, you are expected to contribute to the production as well. Theatre is a collaborative art and the large productions that MAD Drama mounts are very public events needing large parent and community support. There are a wide variety of contributions you can make, some small, some large, some requiring little time and some where you may feel you have actually joined the cast and crew! We will ask you to sign up for a role after the show’s casting. Contribute as much as you wish. Spending time with young performers as they hone their craft is incredibly rewarding.
Producing quality theatre is expensive. The licensing fees alone for a musical play run into the thousands of dollars. That’s not counting lumber, paint, material, lighting, sound equipment, props, programs, T-shirts, ticket stock, power tools, posters, and on and on. Working with all of these resources and materials is a large part of the student learning process. Fairfax County does not directly contribute any money to MAD Drama. In fact, the County invoices us hundreds of dollars to use the auditorium and pay for janitorial services while the show is in production! To counterbalance this, we ask the parents of each performer and Crew Chief to contribute $50 in production fees and to sell another (minimum) of $50 in advertisements to appear in the program given to each audience member.
If your student is cast or chosen to be a Crew Chief, we ask that you come to a meeting near the beginning of the production so that we can coordinate efforts going forward.