Hello, Operator? I’d like to audition for The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.
Harbour Theatre’s upcoming production of one of Shakespeare’s classic plays is taking a new, modern approach. For the Reader’s Theatre show, where performers on stage read aloud from scripts, director Michael Gurney is asking people to call in for their audition.
“The emphasis will be placed on vocal performance. For that reason and the convenience of those who wish to audition, it seemed like an interesting idea to offer a chance to audition by voice alone,” Gurney said during an interview over the phone.
It’s the first time Harbour Theatre is using the technique. The idea came to Gurney when he was trying to set an audition date that worked for everyone but he was having trouble juggling people’s schedules.
“This seemed like a solution that would allow anybody to audition, at a time of their choosing, and hopefully be relaxed and comfortable,” Gurney said.
Potential performers audition by calling 1-888-323-2118. A robot with a British accent — fitting — will answer, give instructions and guide the caller to the website (harbourtheatre.ca/audition) that hosts the audition scripts. The caller will choose one and read in character. Then, Gurney will review the recordings and cast the production.
The director said he’s received auditions already and has gotten compliments on how simple and enjoyable the experience is.
Once cast, Julius Caesar will take the stage at the Tom Rooney Playhouse in mid-March.
The tragedy was one of the first by Shakespeare ever performed at the famous Globe Theatre in London. Written in 1599, Gurney said much of the play’s content is relevant today.
“I chose Julius Caesar because of its relevance to our politically tumultuous age. We are seeing debates play out in media these days about the nature of democracy, the nature and importance of political dialogue. There are few plays in the repertoire that are so focused on the idea of political rhetoric as a tool of effecting change in society. There are speeches in Julius Caesar that are about speeches,” Gurney said.
“It is as comprehensible and as relevant as anything written in 2018. I think that audiences in Prince Rupert will be very surprised at not only their ability to understand the action in Julius Caesar, but also to be moved by its story and motivated as well by the arguments and the ideas that it contains.”
Gurney hopes that the new audition format will entice people who have not performed before to give it a try, and be a new experience for those returning to the stage.
The deadline for auditions has been extended to Feb. 24.