Tag Archives: auditioning for a play

Fences

Top 10 Roles for Teenagers in Plays

Julius Salles painting of Romeo and Juliet, 1898.
Julius Salles painting of Romeo and Juliet, 1898.

It can be tricky navigating your way through plays with good roles that offer an exciting challenge for the modern teenager. After all, there are thousands of plays out there–where do you start? Are you looking for a powerful monologue, a dramatic scene, or a full play that features a lead teenage role?

We have compiled a list of our top ten key roles that cover male/female parts of different teenage ages, backgrounds, and genres, which will hopefully offer inspiration and motivation in your search for the right teenage role for you.

1. Romeo and Juliet in…..Romeo and Juliet

We’re starting with an oldie but a goodie! And a two-for -one! The young couple are, perhaps, the ultimate star-crossed lovers. Although they are often played by older actors, the couple are actually teenagers and their youth, naivete, and passion is what drives the play along. Both roles require strong acting skills and excellent stage presence so that the audience fully believes their doomed love story. A good command of Shakespearean language is a must, especially when relaying it naturally to modern-day audiences. Actors playing both characters must show a great range as they transform from carefree teenagers to a young married couple, facing the greatest challenges and decisions of their lives.

2. Anne Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank

Another young role of female transformation this time but, in marked contrast to the classic tragedy that is played out in Romeo and Juliet, Anne Frank’s journey takes place in Holland under the control of the Nazis in the early 1940s. When the play opens, Anne is a carefree, energetic 13-year-old girl but, throughout the course of the play as she and her family go into hiding, she grows up into a romantic, optimistic, and deeply intelligent 15-year-old young woman. It is Anne’s voice and her story that lead the play so the actress playing the role must have a strong stage presence and great command of the tale as it unfolds. The part is typically played by a late teen who can portray Anne’s journey through her teenage years.

Uark Theatre Production of The Diary of Anne Frank. Photo credit: Uark Theatre via Creative Commons License 2.0.
Uark Theatre Production of The Diary of Anne Frank. Photo credit: Uark Theatre via Creative Commons License 2.0.

3. Christopher in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Christopher identifies himself in the script as being “fifteen years and three months and two days” old, although he is often played by an older actor due to the challenging nature of the role.  However, for the right, talented older teen actor this character offers a great challenge. Christopher has Asperger’s syndrome and this must be conveyed convincingly, with research carried out as to how this would affect Christopher’s take on the world around him. He is also constantly moving so the actor playing this role needs stamina and tons of energy!

4. Judy Graves in Junior Miss

Judy is a 13-year-old New York teenager in the 1930s. Brought up on the classic Hollywood films, she has an overactive imagination and this causes her to get strange ideas in her head!

She is childish at times, especially when she is by herself, but Judy is treading the fine line between childhood and the teenage years. Intensely funny and full of energy, this role offers a great opportunity for a talented younger teenage girl to get her teeth into. She must be entertaining, upbeat, and have great stage presence to lead the play’s narrative.

5. Abigail Williams in The Crucible

The Crucible has several parts for teenage girls of all different character types and sizes so it’s a great one to look at for parts or monologues. Check out some of the highlighted monologues in our show guide for inspiration! Abigail is 17 years old and the leader of the Salem girls. She is confident, sexy, manipulative, and cruel. She accuses local women of witchcraft to divert attention away from herself and she is fully aware of the falsehoods and cruel implications of her actions. Abigail has also had an affair with an older, married man in the town and uses their previous relationship to manipulate and blackmail. This part is a great, lead role for a talented older teen.

6. Albus Potter in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child [Parts One and Two]

The most modern play on the list, Albus Potter is a truly magical role for an older teenage boy. He matures from a grumpy, sullen teenager to a teenage wizard who must deal with the potentially fatal implications of his rebellion against his father, Harry. Although, the role is a young teenage boy, it is typically played by a late teen/young adult as the part demands a great deal of maturity, talent, and stamina. The production is still being performed professionally in London’s West End and will open on Broadway in September 2018 so it will not be available for amateur performance for a while yet. However, until then, it offers a great selection of monologues and the character of Albus is often paired up with his best friend, Scorpius Malfoy, so there are also lots of scenes for two older teens.Take a look both of our guides for the two plays to find out more.

potter

7. The Girl in Eclipsed

The Girl in Eclipsed is a very different acting opportunity to the parts on our top ten list so far. The play is set in Liberia, Africa, during the second civil war there and the actress playing the part of The Girl must have a strong, convincing Liberian accent. She also requires a huge amount of maturity and emotion as the role deals with abduction, polygamy, and rape. The Girl is described as being 15 years old so it would suit a talented older teenage girl.

8. CB in Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead

The character of CB is based on Charlie Brown from the comic strip “Peanuts” and has been updated to deal with high school, friendship, and sexuality in the modern day. Writing to a penpal friend who never writes back, CB has a lot of monologues as he pours out his heart and his concerns on the paper. The death of his much-loved dog prompts him to question the meaning of life and his own identity. He is deeply introspective and often gets things wrong as he searches for answers. First produced in 2004, this dark comedy offers a fascinating and challenging look at being a teenager in the twenty-first century. CB must have a playing age of 16-18 years old.

9. Cory in Fences

In this Tony Award winning play, Cory is an African-American teenager from Pennsylvania who must navigate a tricky relationship with his father, Troy. He starts the play as a frustrated teenager about to graduate from high school and ends it as a soldier returning home after his father’s death. He is a talented football player and desperately wants to make his father proud, but he feels constantly put down and belittled by Troy. The role offers a great chance to demonstrate maturity and and a range of emotions for an older African-American teen.

The Huntington Theatre Company's production of Fences. Photo Credit: Eric Antoniou via Creative Commons License 2.0
The Huntington Theatre Company’s production of Fences. Photo Credit: Eric Antoniou via Creative Commons License 2.0

10. Hank in Marvin’s Room

Finishing with another key role for a teenage boy, Hank is an unstable, troubled teenager who begins the play in a mental institution after burning down the family home. He takes lithium although his moods still swing violently. Hank has a frail, distant relationship with his mother yet, despite running away as he thought he always wanted to, he ultimately returns to his dysfunctional family. Hank is an interesting character role for a teenage boy who is able to portray the fine balance of being mentally unstable without becoming an exaggerated characterization.

So there you have it! Just a dip into some of the exciting and challenging roles for teenagers in plays. Enjoy exploring and find the right role, monologue, or scene for you.

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NO!!!

How NOT to Audition: Five Key Mistakes to Avoid

There is a lot of advice out there on auditioning. A great how-to is even right HERE on this website!

But there are a few things that a ton of performers do which impede their auditioning. Here are five of them, and how to flip them into something positive:

1. THE BLITZKRIEG

Perhaps it’s mid-January to April, which means “audition season.” There are literally hundreds of shows being cast by theatres around the country, all at the same time. So on any given day, there may be five or six major auditions. And you try to hit them ALL.

I understand the “throw all the darts at the dartboard at once and hope ONE of them sticks” mentality; believe me, I’ve been there. But it just doesn’t work. You need to find the roles and shows for which you are truly competitive, and focus on those. Otherwise you will spread yourself too thin, and not give the more book-able auditions their due. In addition, you run the risk of showing yourself to casting directors as someone who doesn’t know his or her niche – which will make them dismiss you, rather than think of you for a different project.

Honestly, this even goes for when times are slower – choose projects to audition for that a) you’re really, truly right for, and b) you really, truly want to do. This will make you happier, and likely result in a higher audition-to-booking ratio.

2. THE UNIFORM

This is mostly one for the musical theatre ladies: DO NOT WEAR A JEWEL-TONE/FLORAL DRESS AND NUDE PUMPS. Or your LaDucas. (Unless you’re actually at a dance call.)

NO!!!

You know the look I mean – you think it makes you appear like a blank slate the director can project the image of the role on to. In reality, it’s the opposite. It’s a fairly universal truism that a casting director has decided whether or not to call you back THREE SECONDS after you walk into the room. That’s even before you hand your book to the accompanist.

(This applies to non-musical auditions as well; I see a lot of flowy dresses for Shakespeare seasons. But casting directors for plays make the same decisions the moment you open the door.)

Sure, what you do with your next two minutes and fifty-seven seconds can change their minds (both ways!), but they’ve already made a judgement call about whether or not you’re right for the role after three seconds. So a “blank slate” look will not help your chances one bit. They’re seeing a bazillion people –help them out! I’m not saying come in costume, far from it.

ALSO NO. Photo Credit: Eva Rinaldi via Creative Commons License
ALSO NO.
Photo Credit: Eva Rinaldi via Creative Commons License

Echo the role, and don’t be afraid to show your personality and your individualism so they can get a sense of you from that first moment. And that goes for the fellas as well.

3. THE LENGTH

When theatres ask for 16-32 bars or “a short selection” for a musical, or a brief 1-2 minute monologue, they mean what they say. As referenced above, your auditioners don’t need to watch an entire character arc in song to decide if they want to see more from you. Initial auditions are like speed dating, seriously. Pique their interest. Then when you get the callback, you can luxuriate. At a packed chorus call when they cut it down to eight bars, you should hear the cacophony of groans. But it doesn’t matter! They really will see what they need to see to decide in that short chunk.

You should make it a priority to find short cuts of any song you put in your book. And time your monologues, with pauses, and get them to a minute. These long days of auditioning are pretty brutal on auditioners. (I’ve also spent some time on the other side of the table, so I can attest to it!) You will curry a lot of favor with short, intelligent choices. Less really is more.

4. THE NITPICKING

The accompanist was bad. The room was hot. You lost your place in the monologue. You gacked on the big note. The director asked you a question and you fumbled the answer. You were rushing from another audition and didn’t have time to catch your breath. You heard they already cast the role. You saw the person who snatches jobs away from you ahead of you in line.

I have seen people walk out of audition rooms and burst into tears. My heart goes out to them, because, again, we’ve all been there. But the BEST piece of advice I can give is to quote Elsa and say, “Let it go.”

Frozen GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

If you obsess over all the tiny things you think went wrong, you’ll never get out of your head, and that’s a death knell. Here’s the deal – NONE OF THAT MATTERS. If the accompanist was bad for you, he was bad for everyone. Auditioners know that everyone gacks on a note now and then. And so on.

There are fifty things you don’t have control over, but you have control over how you handle them. Shift your mindset – it’s not, “Please, oh please, give me this job,” it’s, “Hey, I’m an awesome person and a great performer and don’t you want to hang out with me for six weeks?” Going back to the speed-dating analogy; if you’re totally into someone, and he spills a drink on you, you will still probably go out with him. So don’t freak out over the little stuff.

5. THE COMPARTMENTALIZING

One job will not make a career.

There are a lot of folks out there who think they’ll come to New York and book a Broadway show, and it will be gravy from then on. For a rare few – a very rare few – that might happen. But for most of us, after each gig, we’re kind of back at square one.

Yes, you’ll have another credit, you will have networked with more people, you may have grown as a person and performer – but that may not translate into a string of bookings. So you can’t live and die over one particular job.

It’s startling how many actors don’t think of their work in terms of a career. If you do, I promise everything will be more fulfilling. Rejections won’t matter as much (because you’ll have been brilliant and so they’ll want to work with you eventually). You won’t get jealous over friends’ successes (because that’s THEIR career, not yours, and we each have a path). Your day job will be less of a struggle (because it’s just a temporary means to an end).

If you think in terms of a career, in-between bookings you’ll create your own material–because you’re an artist, and that’s what artists do. You’ll get those creative juices flowing, and maybe also come up with something that fills your soul as well as your bank account.

#          #          #

Avoiding these five mistakes might not guarantee bookings, but you’ll be a much happier and polished performer. Break legs and be brilliant!

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Happy Days

Audition Material That’s Right for YOU

I have found, both in my life as a creative and in my career in casting that there are two kinds of people: those who love auditioning and those that would rather eat glass, but know they must audition in order to work. Either way, auditioning is a necessary evil, if you want to be a professional actor. There is just no way around it. If you are a person who loves auditioning, consider yourself blessed.

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So many plays!

How to Find the Perfect Monologue

So many plays!Whether you’re just starting out in the biz or a longtime pro, the search for the perfect monologue never ends. Monologues are frequently used in auditions, coaching sessions, and classes, so it’s important to know how to look and where to begin your search.

First of all, you’re starting in the right place—StageAgent has a huge directory of monologues, all linked to play or musical study guides.  There, you can read the monologues themselves, but also information about the context in which they are spoken, and links to a character analysis and a guide to the play as a whole. Continue reading

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Becca Ballenger soliloquizing in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM

Soliloquy Compared to a Monologue

Young actors can often get confused about the differences between a soliloquy and monologue.  Soliloquies and monologues are widely used by one of my favorite playwrights, William Shakespeare.

Becca Ballenger soliloquizing in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
Becca Ballenger soliloquizing in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

Approaching Shakespeare as an actor is both thrilling and intimidating. Most thrilling is that you can allow Shakespeare’s brilliant language to do a lot of the grunt work for you. Most intimidating is that before you can rely on the language, you have to identify and excavate the clues within it. I once had an acting teacher explain to me that a play by Shakespeare is like a bottle of premade marinara sauce– all the spices are already inside, so your job is to heat it all up and add your own spin (alphabet macaroni, anyone?). There are going to be future blogs here on Stage Agent about the many different “clues” Shakespeare provides in his plays (scansion, rhetoric, prose and verse, alliteration, etc.). With this post, I’m going to talk about just one: soliloquies.

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