Guidelines and Requirements for Your Shakespeare Scholarship Audition

Information for High School Applicants to the GVSU Shakespeare Scholarship

1. This application may be submitted at any time between September 1 - March 31.

2. You will be notified within a week following the application deadline of the day and time for your audition and/or interview for this award. All finalists will be required to present an audition and have an interview with the drama faculty on the GVSU campus, the weekend following the deadline date. Winners of this award will be notified within two weeks of their audition/interview.

3. The drama faculty would like to see acting/directing applicants present a memorized 2-4 minute selection from Shakespeare for their audition, and a contrasting piece of similar length from any modern play. This may be a single-character monolog or a two-character scene. Monologs are always preferred since students may find it difficult to locate and schedule work with a "scene partner." The total audition time should not exceed 6 minutes. Design/tech and management applicants should bring a portfolio of their work for the interview; they need not present an acting audition.

4. Sufficient lead-time to prepare a good audition or portfolio is very important for all applicants. You should be rehearsing audition pieces even before you file your application, and collecting & saving materials for your portfolio (photos, sketches, writing samples, etc.). This will ensure that you are ready to compete on the audition day, and that you feel confident about your presentation and speaking about your work in the interview.

5. You should choose characters for your acting/directing audition who are close to your own age and emotional experience, avoiding the "grand heroic characters" that spring quickly to mind when one thinks of Shakespeare. In other words, choose characters such as Romeo and Juliet, or Nina from Chekhov's THE SEAGULL, or Helena from A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. Avoid "big" dramatic speeches by characters like Macbeth, Willy Loman, or Hedda Gabler.

6.  Design/tech and management applicants should be prepared to speak knowledgeably about the work in their portfolio, and the organization of the portfolio will be a key for faculty to understand the applicant's organization skills, preparedness, etc.  Acting/directing applicants should not be concerned with costumes, properties, or settings in preparing their audition. We are interested only in your acting abilities, so concentrate upon interpreting the text and generating belief in the dramatic situation. Your audition will take place in a rehearsal hall, and we will furnish basic chairs, benches, tables for you to work with. You will also have warm-up rooms to get ready before you're called onstage. The best auditions use only one or two pieces of furniture and a minimum of stage movement while the actor concentrates his or her belief in the dramatic situation.

7. It is always best to work with your drama coach in preparing your audition or portfolio, using his or her advice for selecting audition material, interpreting the text, and then rehearsing it. By all means, present your audition or portfolio to others before the competition in order to get used to presenting yourself publicly, and relaxing during your presentation.

8. You should not feel at a disadvantage if you have never acted in or worked on a Shakespeare play at your school or community theatre. In fact, it is rare when new students do have such an opportunity to perform Shakespeare. Acting/directing applicants might find it helpful to view a videotape of the play you are using for an audition in order to gain some ideas for interpretation and performance. And you might also find it helpful to "cut" and "edit" your selection from the original text(without changing any of the words) in order to create a unified or more manageable audition selection. Your drama coach or English teacher can help you with this.

9. When you arrive for the audition, wear some loose-fitting clothes that you feel comfortable in-we're not judging you on your attire or the "fashion statement" you're making. Clothes are only important if you feel good in them, and if they permit you to move freely around the stage.

10. Finally, remember that we are looking for your potential as an actor, director, designer or management student.  For this reason we're not expecting a "finished performance" of the play the acting/directing student may be presenting. This means that we'll be concentrating upon the way you use your voice and how you move onstage, and whether or not you seem to understand and believe in the words of the text. You should try therefore to make the scene or monologue "connect" to your own life somehow in order to invest your acting with belief and energy.  With design/tech and management applicants, we'll be evaluating your communication skills and self-confidence, in addition to looking at the quality and extent of your work.  All applicants will be asked to explain their personal and career goals as part of the interview.

For purposes of improving their interviewing and auditioning skills, all applicants should familiarize themselves with information about our theatre program, our Shakespeare Scholarship auditions and the Shakespeare Festival itself. Acting/directing applicants should also spend time developing their audition technique by working with a coach and reading at least one of the many textbooks dealing with competitive auditioning. We recommend the following resources:

The Complete Audition Book for Young Actors by Roger Ellis (Meriwether Publishing, 2003, ISBN 1-56608-088-6)). Written by one of our faculty artist-directors, this nationally-acclaimed text will guide you step-by-step through audition preparation, and contains complete information about auditioning and acting careers

The Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival: is the official website of the Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival, Michigan's oldest and largest Shakespeare Fest that is produced annually by students and faculty. Visit this site to explore the range of dramatic activities associated with the Festival and to see how our theatre students are involved.

Grand Valley State University Theatre Program: is the official website of the University's Theatre Arts program.  Visit this site to explore the range of drama offerings for students at Grand Valley State!

Page last modified January 18, 2017