by Anne Flinders, dramaturg

In March of 2012, auditions for Young Company’s upcoming productions of Sleepy Hollow and Henry 5 were announced. Hopeful BYU students attending the initial auditions did not really knowing what to prepare themselves for. They were asked not to deliver a monologue as in a traditional audition setting, or to give a cold reading from a script. Instead, they were broken into pairs and asked to recreate a telling of a fairy tale. Auditioners who were invited to callbacks were asked to be prepared to spend the entire two hours of the scheduled audition with the staff, and to wear comfortable clothes they could move in.

Professor Megan Sanborn Jones

At callbacks the auditioners were broken into groups and led by Professor Megan Sanborn Jones, the director of Henry 5, through a series of movement-based exercises. This included exaggerated marching/stomping steps (a Sazuki theatre exercise), frozen and fluid poses, and other motions and actions that challenged and demonstrated the physical skills of the auditioners. Groups were rearranged several times in order to allow the auditioners to work with nearly all the people who were participating. Auditioners were given improvisation scenarios to create in these groups. Finally, some of the auditioners were asked to read a few lines from segments of Shakespeare’s Henry 5, and to perform these readings in a variety of voices and physicalities.

Through these exercises, seven students were selected to form the acting team of BYU’s Young Company production of William Shakespeare’s Henry 5. These students were not assigned to specific roles in the play at this point. In Part II, we will share with you the next step in the audition process: how viewpointing, an acting technique based on movement and gesture, was used to select which actors would be matched the roles of the play.

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