The Institute of Outdoor Drama holds auditions at ECU, its new home
Mendenhall came alive with singing, dancing, and acting on March 12 as 181 drama students from 94 universities and colleges in 24 states and Scotland attended the National Outdoor Drama auditions, sponsored by the Institute of Outdoor Drama (IOD) at ECU.
This year marked a monumental occasion for the institute because, for the first time ever, East Carolina University hosted the auditions. The IOD has resided at UNC-Chapel Hill for the past 47 years but transferred to ECU in August 2010. Now, the institute happily calls the College of Fine Arts and Communication at ECU its new home.
According to Susan Phillips, interim director of the IOD, the transition to East Carolina University from UNC was phenomenal.
“I love ECU and am very glad to be here. We are very blessed,” said Phillips. “Mendenhall is the best facility we have ever used for auditions. We have the auditorium, all the callback rooms, and restaurants very close by. We can also use the whole building, so everybody has plenty of space.”
Honey in the Rock and The Hatfields and McCoys
Theatre West Virginia
Beckley, West Virginia
Horn in the West
Southern Appalachian Historical Association, Inc.
Boone, North Carolina
The Lost Colony
Roanoke Island Historical Association, Inc.
Manteo, North Carolina
Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire
The Sword of Peace and Pathway to Freedom
Snow Camp Outdoor Theatre
Snow Camp, North Carolina
The Scioto Society, Inc.
Trumpet in the Land and The White Savage
Ohio Outdoor Historical Drama Association
New Philadelphia, Ohio
Unto These Hills
Cherokee Historical Association
Cherokee, North Carolina
The weekend kicked off Friday night, March 11, at the Erwin Building with a Q & A session featuring the drama’s casting and artistic directors. The auditionees were given the opportunity to receive advice about how to play to their strengths, show their potential in auditions, what to expect at callbacks, and what they should never do during auditions.
At the Q & A sessions, Phillips said the directors really emphasize how important it is for the auditionees to act professionally.
“When auditioning for a role, you are your product and you must be professional and present yourself well,” she said.
Phillips said, overall, the Q & A sessions have been extremely successful and insightful.
“It is amazing the lessons that come out of these question and answer sessions,” said Phillips. “They really present a great casual time for the students to meet and to talk with the directors.”
Registration and check-in for the auditions began bright and early 6:30 a.m. Saturday. Auditions commenced throughout the day as students tried out for the parts of actors, singers, dancers, and technicians in various outdoor dramas.
Eight different theatre companies were present at the auditions, representing several different productions including Honey in the Rock, Hatfields & McCoys, Horn in the West, The Lost Colony, the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, The Sword of Peace, Pathway to Freedom, Tecumseh!, Trumpet in the Land, The White Savage, and Unto These Hills.
Once they had auditioned, the students also found out on Saturday whether companies were interested in interviewing them by locating their numbers on the callback board.
According to Phillips, being involved in any kind of theatrical production teaches students essential life lessons, such as social skills. For many people, acting brings them out of their shells and gives them more confidence, she said.
The students who participated in the auditions showed a great passion for theatre. They shared what makes outdoor drama special, what’s going through their minds when they step on stage for the first performance, why they are excited to perform in an outdoor drama, what they have learned through their acting experiences, and any advice they have for budding actors.
Amanda Klinikowski and Grayson Sandford were two of the 16 ECU students who attended the auditions. They both agreed that the outdoor auditions presented a great opportunity for them.
Klinikowski mentioned that since outdoor drama is a different art form from other types of acting, it is a special kind of production.
“Outdoor dramas require a bigger presence,” she said. “Also, the venues are absolutely gorgeous. There is a beautiful, almost sacred feeling for the whole thing.”
Sandford participated in the institute’s auditions last year, and actually ended up getting a job with The Lost Colony.
“Working with The Lost Colony was a fantastic experience; it was such fun to be right there at the beach,” he said. “The other cast members were great. Everyone got along and it was just awesome.”
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