The Abbey are holding General Auditions in the second week of August (10th, 11th and 12th) and they are taking applications until this Friday, July 29th. Although it sometimes seems like the same names and faces appear in every Abbey production, so far this year there have been 16 new faces out of the 66 actors employed on the Abbey and Peacock stages and on tour. This is according to Fiach Mac Conghail (@fmacconghail), director of the Abbey on Twitter today and includes Charlie Murphy who made her début as Eliza Dolittle in the wonderful production of Pygmalion that I never got around to writing about.
Meanwhile, the other big theatre in Dublin 1, the Gate is running a workshop in audition techniques for actors next Wednesday week, August 3rd with casting director Maureen Hughes. It runs from 11am – 5pm and costs €35 which is a much cheaper that a lot of other full day workshops.
Last month I applied for Show in a Bag – a collaborative project run by Dublin Fringe Festival, Fishamble and the Irish Theatre Institute. The five successful applicants will have a play written for them by Gavin Kostick from Fishamble and will perform the play at the Fringe Festival. They will have direction, budgeting and production support from the ITI and the Fringe Festival throughout the process. And at the end of is all, that play will continue to have a long and (hopefully) profitable life with it’s performers, playing arts centres and festivals around the country.
It’s a wonderful idea and a great opportunity for performers to have a great deal of help and support to create the show they want to perform – from rehearsal space, office space, help with putting together budgeting, a director to help shape the show, a head start with networking at the Fringe’s Information Toolbox, etc. They then have a great place for the show’s debut performance at the Fringe. The really great thing is that the whole project is designed so that the Fringe Festival is the only the beginning of the show’s life. The whole thing is preparing you to take this show out into the world and show it off.
Unfortunately, I was not one of the five success applicants but I did get a great deal out of the application process. For a start, it made me think about the type of show I would like to create in this situation. Of course, this is something I should be doing anyway; I should be chasing down ideas everyday and trying to come up with the best way to bring them to life. I wish it was like that but most days I get so bogged down by the day job and the day-to-day life in general that I don’t find time for the higher, loftier ambitions of making art. It’s easier to get absorbed by the day-to-day things than to make space for the other stuff. So it’s always good when something like this comes along to give me a clear set of parameters and a deadline to focus on.
I was also lucky enough to make it to the interview stage where I got to bounce ideas around with the interview panel. It made things seem more possible and less like free floating ideas. I plan to develop my ideas, try out some of the things that came up in that meeting and see where they led me.
I think it’s great that the Fringe is doing something like this to encourage artists and performers and give them a change to create something wonderful. It’s especially useful for those people who may not have the experience or the connections to get something off the ground on their own. I’m hoping to see some of the shows in the Fringe Festival in September.