Updated: Nov 16, 2020
Published in Hanford Sentinel Newspaper ---August 21, 2020
We at HMTC enjoy teaching acting. One of the best experiences for us is to see a student who has never acted before thriving in the art. In our classes we give actors tips, performance tools, and even a story or two of experiences in the industry. You also hear us say, “Get stage time.” Stage time is time on stage to practice the craft. Stage time is important to actors. To get stage time in a play, the actor is required to audition. Auditions can be compared to a job interview. However, in a job interview, an employer does not usually ask the applicant to show skills there in the office. Auditions do. An actor will be asked for one or two, two-minute monologues. Sometimes the actor is asked to read a page of a script. In HMTC’s view, the audition is also stage time. I was acting in a Lanford Wilson play called "Hot’L Baltimore" and met an actor that had driven two hours to get to the audition. When he was cast, he was at every rehearsal. I was amazed by the distance he had to travel for rehearsals and shows. I asked him why he would do it. He said he wanted the stage time.
In Chicago, a mecca for acting opportunities, actors took all roles they could to hone or develop their skills. Some were theater school trained, and some were novices. I auditioned both groups of actors for my plays. It did not matter to me who had a degree in theater and who did not. What was clear to me, was the ones with lots of stage time auditioned well. There are other ways to get stage time than being in a play. Taking part in a stand-up comedy show, becoming a member of the Hanford Toastmasters Club, participating in monologue slams, or even taking part in a puppet show gives stage time. Stage time can also happen by reading a play-in-progress for a playwright. (Playwright confession: I often bring a new scene, or new script for actors to read at HMTC acting classes.)
Seasoned actors look at auditions as a stage time opportunity. Even if the actor is not quite right for the role it is good craft training. It is also a good opportunity to be seen for future projects. In summary, stage time is important to keep skills sharp and learn the stage. HMTC encourages all their students to find stage time anywhere they can. Right now, the industry is using Zoom for auditions and performances. HMTC recommends using that medium as well to get stage time. Silvia Gonzalez Scherer is the Executive Artistic Director and co-founder of the Hanford Multicultural Theater Company. She is also a playwright and an actress.