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    Posted February March 15, 2007

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A New Year and a New Venue for DC/Baltimore Equity Auditions

By Gregory Gorton

For the sixth consecutive year the Washington/Baltimore/Northern Virginia Equity Liaison Committee has presented The Equity Liaison Auditions for 2007. Washington's famously fickle winter weather did nothing to distract or delay the yearly stop on the way to our local Yellow brick Road.

The new location for the auditions is The Round House Theater's black box theater in Silver Spring, Maryland. The Round House is centrally located in the newly refurbished Silver Spring district. The theater is a short four block walk from the DC Metro system, making it easier for out of town auditionees coming in via Amtrak to Union Station or BWI.

The Round House is also surrounded by plenty of parking and dozens of restaurants for that apres' audition feast. The central location and the easy parking availability relieves the stress on those actors who are driving in.

Everyone connected with the Round House facility went far beyond their call of duty to make the Liaison Committee feel welcome. The staff and crew of the theater deserve our particular thanks. But the majority of kudos must go to Round House Producing Artistic Director Blake Robison, and Associate Producer Danisha Crosby. Danisha was indefatigably helpful and supportive, doing everything from setting up the accompanist's synthesizer, to assisting with the donuts and coffee. Danisha truly knows every square inch of the theater space and was invaluable in planning the logistics and set up of the space.

We on the committee must also mention the outstanding generosity and support of the Olney Theater Center in Olney, Maryland.

Veterans of the Equity Liaison Auditions know that for the past five years, Olney has graciously allowed us the use of it's Gudelsky Theater for our auditions. The auditions originated at Olney and went through it's infancy and growing pains there. Many thanks to all those creative and patient people at Olney Theater who, over the years, have given the committee and these auditions their full faith, trust, and confidence in the committee and it's members.

Chair Emeritus Ilona Dulaski looks upon the auditions with a particular fondness. Ilona was one of the truly driving forces in making these auditions a reality. " I am so proud of our Equity Auditions for the producers and the talent as well." says Dulaski. " As the Liaison Committee faces these auditions year after year, the flow of those two days of auditions keeps getting smoother and more streamlined. The Liaison Committee is to be highly commended for the seeming ease of the process."

Ms. Dulaski continues, " These auditions are a preliminary audition for these producers, so that the artist can then be called back, according to the individual theater's schedule. Many of our Equity members have gotten call backs and jobs from these Equity Auditions. We set up these auditions for our members and they are turning out to be very, very lucrative for the membership. We of the Equity Liaison Committee, are very proud of our commitment to the members of our region and we all look forward to the continuation of these auditions in the years to come."

Twenty-two actors from outside the Washington area took advantage of this new convenience, while close to two hundred local Equity actors participated on their way to fame, fortune and paying their agents.

Thirty theaters and casting organizations sent their representatives to audit the auditions. Of these theaters, many were from outside the immediate Washington D.C. area.

Bill Felty, casting director for The Wilma Theater in Philadelphia was impressed with his first trip to the DC auditions. " I was amazed by the level of talent in the pool there. Additionally, the entire process was extremely organized and well run. I'll be back next year!"

Equally impressed was Jerome Davis, Artistic Director of the Burning Coal Theater Company, in Raleigh, North Carolina. " I was amazed by the constant stream of talented performers and heartened by the large number of AEA theaters all thriving in that area. I felt very strongly that I may be in the middle of some kind of renaissance--and that the nation's capital might actually be on it's way to becoming the theatrical center of the country."

"I just wanted you to know how impressed I was at the Equity Liaison Auditions this year," said Carlyn Davis of Carlyn Davis Casting. "It was like a breath of fresh air. The actors thoroughly considered their choices of monologues, and I saw a lot of range."

Hugh from "That's Entertainment Productions" was another first timer. "This was my first experience with the AEA auditions...and I had fun during the whole process. It was, of course, great to see old friends and meet new folks too!"

Some of the auditors wanted to leave the actors with some words of advice;

"Just because you have two or three minutes, says James Kinstle, Artistic Director of The Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, "doesn't mean you need to utilize all your time. It's better to leave them wanting more." Yvonne Erickson says, " from recent years of experience and on a positive note, (auditionees should realize) that not getting an immediate callback could mean that the actor may very well be invited to any of these theaters' general auditions. As we all well know, those will take place at various time during the year and they don't usually invite actors to those until a few weeks before they happen."

As a whole, the majority of the feedback from the auditors was extremely positive, which is both pleasing and rewarding to those of us on the committee.

The auditors were not alone in their praise of The Equity Liaison Auditions.

Many participating actors shared their thoughts on the day.

"It makes such a difference to do an audition in an actual performance space (on stage), rather than on a concrete-floored- room, in front of people seated at a table!" said David Gaines.

Sandy Bainum also had an enjoyable experience. "I personally love these auditions because, there is more time than a typical audition. It gives you more time to do your best. And, having so many participating theaters makes it very worthwhile."

Those auditionees who were here for the first time were quite surprised. "Being a first timer at these auditions, I was struck by the friendliness of my fellow actors attending the auditions," said Sarah Fallon. "I think that D.C. has a community of actors who are genuinely interested in the productivity and employment of their fellow actors. I have attended auditions in many other cities where actors are standoffish, and seem to look at you as their nemesis. This was not the case at the area wide auditions in Silver Spring."

Thomasin Savaiano drove in from the far wilderness of Winchester, Virginia. "Check in was great and personable. I think the whole atmosphere of the auditions was much calmer and more professional. Part of that is the space and part of that was the key people running the auditions."

No matter the venue, no matter the weather, The Equity Liaison Auditions are growing in popularity each year.

As committee co-chair Ray Ficca says, "The Washington D.C./Baltimore/Northern Virginia region encompasses a huge geographic area. The Liaison auditions are a convenient and cost effective way for our local membership to showcase their talents. This notion may seem odd to Equity members in other regions, as theaters in the D.C. region hold their EPAs in their own location. Members simply travel to one of the areas fantastic LORT or SPT theaters, in their convenient suburban locations to attend the auditions. This may be a challenging reality for the city based AEA actor."

Our other co-chair, the redoubtable Bill Largess, Batman to Ficca's Robin, brings the perspective of many years serving on the committee. " We on the Liaison Committee are continually pleased and humbled by the response of our local actors to these auditions, Throughout the year each of us hears from members who have gotten work from (the auditions). And the reaction to the supportive atmosphere is if anything, even stronger. No actor loves auditions, but it helps to have actors actually running them-who knows the pitfalls better than we do?"

So mark your calendars for the next round of auditions which is tentatively scheduled to be held, once again, at the Round House space in Silver Spring, in approximately the third week of January. As always, to keep up with all of the theater goings on in Washington/Baltimore, check the Equity Hotline: (202) 595-8997. You've got the entire year to get that monologue and song just perfect ! >

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