Enrollment for this four-week summer program is by audition only. Students ages 15-24 learn about Shakespeare’s world, script analysis, scansion and verse, dialect, vocal production, and character development. Lead by skilled Shakespearian artists, students rehearse and perform one of the Bard’s masterpieces on the Ensemble stage at the New Vic. This year's production will be A Midsummer Night's Dream, Directed by Michael Bernard.
Dates and Times: July 8 - August 4, 2019, Monday through Friday (with some Saturdays) 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Performances: August 2 and 3 at 7:00 p.m. / August 3 and 4 at 2:00 p.m.
Qualifications: Previous acting and performing experience helpful. Previous experience with Shakespeare not required.
Auditions are by appointment through the end of April. SIGN UP to request an audition appointment or to submit a video audition.
Tuition: $850 Financial Assistance Available
The ETC Young Actors’ Conservatory is a rigorous program designed to offer participants the experience of working in a professional setting and alongside professional theater artists. Each day begins with a training program followed by rehearsals for a play or musical. Students receive a challenging and innovative arts education similar to that of a collegiate arts program, supported by a comprehensive curriculum that balances performance and technique. Students learn proper rehearsal and performance etiquette, time management skills, communication skills, how to work cooperatively in a group setting, and how to produce quality work in a fast-paced environment. Over the course of the program, guest artists will visit with students and share their experiences in the professional world.
Character List and Descriptions
Puck - Also known as Robin Goodfellow, Puck is Oberon’s jester, a mischievous fairy who delights in playing pranks on mortals. Though A Midsummer Night’s Dream divides its action between several groups of characters, Puck is the closest thing the play has to a protagonist. His enchanting, mischievous spirit pervades the atmosphere, and his antics are responsible for many of the complications that propel the other main plots: he mistakes the young Athenians, applying the love potion to Lysander instead of Demetrius, thereby causing chaos within the group of young lovers; he also transforms Bottom’s head into that of an ass.
Oberon - The king of the fairies, Oberon is initially at odds with his wife, Titania, because she refuses to relinquish control of a young Indian prince whom he wants for a knight. Oberon’s desire for revenge on Titania leads him to send Puck to obtain the love-potion flower that creates so much of the play’s confusion and farce.
Titania - The beautiful queen of the fairies, Titania resists the attempts of her husband, Oberon, to make a knight of the young Indian prince that she has been given. Titania’s brief, potion-induced love for Nick Bottom, whose head Puck has transformed into that of an ass, yields the play’s foremost example of the contrast motif.
Lysander - A young man of Athens, in love with Hermia. Lysander’s relationship with Hermia invokes the theme of love’s difficulty: he cannot marry her openly because Egeus, her father, wishes her to wed Demetrius; when Lysander and Hermia run away into the forest, Lysander becomes the victim of misapplied magic and wakes up in love with Helena.
Demetrius - A young man of Athens, initially in love with Hermia and ultimately in love with Helena. Demetrius’s obstinate pursuit of Hermia throws love out of balance among the quartet of Athenian youths and precludes a symmetrical two-couple arrangement.
Hermia - Egeus’s daughter, a young woman of Athens. Hermia is in love with Lysander and is a childhood friend of Helena. As a result of the fairies’ mischief with Oberon’s love potion, both Lysander and Demetrius suddenly fall in love with Helena. Self-conscious about her short stature, Hermia suspects that Helena has wooed the men with her height. By morning, however, Puck has sorted matters out with the love potion, and Lysander’s love for Hermia is restored.
Helena - A young woman of Athens, in love with Demetrius. Demetrius and Helena were once betrothed, but when Demetrius met Helena’s friend Hermia, he fell in love with her and abandoned Helena. Lacking confidence in her looks, Helena thinks that Demetrius and Lysander are mocking her when the fairies’ mischief causes them to fall in love with her.
Egeus - Hermia’s father, who brings a complaint against his daughter to Theseus: Egeus has given Demetrius permission to marry Hermia, but Hermia, in love with Lysander, refuses to marry Demetrius. Egeus’s severe insistence that Hermia either respect his wishes or be held accountable to Athenian law places him squarely outside the whimsical dream realm of the forest.
Theseus - The heroic duke of Athens, engaged to Hippolyta. Theseus represents power and order throughout the play. He appears only at the beginning and end of the story, removed from the dreamlike events of the forest.
Hippolyta - The legendary queen of the Amazons, engaged to Theseus. Like Theseus, she symbolizes order.
Nick Bottom - The overconfident weaver chosen to play Pyramus in the craftsmen’s play for Theseus’s marriage celebration. Bottom is full of advice and self-confidence but frequently makes silly mistakes and misuses language. His simultaneous nonchalance about the beautiful Titania’s sudden love for him and unawareness of the fact that Puck has transformed his head into that of an ass mark the pinnacle of his foolish arrogance.
Peter Quince - A carpenter and the nominal leader of the craftsmen’s attempt to put on a play for Theseus’s marriage celebration. Quince is often shoved aside by the abundantly confident Bottom. During the craftsmen’s play, Quince plays the Prologue.
Francis Flute - The bellows-mender chosen to play Thisbe in the craftsmen’s play for Theseus’s marriage celebration. Forced to play a young girl in love, the bearded craftsman determines to speak his lines in a high, squeaky voice.
Robin Starveling - The tailor chosen to play Thisbe’s mother in the craftsmen’s play for Theseus’s marriage celebration. He ends up playing the part of Moonshine.
Tom Snout - The tinker chosen to play Pyramus’s father in the craftsmen’s play for Theseus’s marriage celebration. He ends up playing the part of Wall, dividing the two lovers.
Snug - The joiner chosen to play the lion in the craftsmen’s play for Theseus’s marriage celebration. Snug worries that his roaring will frighten the ladies in the audience.
Philostrate - Theseus’s Master of the Revels, responsible for organizing the entertainment for the duke’s marriage celebration.
Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Mote, and Mustardseed - The fairies ordered by Titania to attend to Bottom after she falls in love with him.
A Midsummer Night's Dream Synopsis
Theseus, duke of Athens, is preparing for his marriage to Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, with a four-day festival of pomp and entertainment. He commissions his Master of the Revels, Philostrate, to find suitable amusements for the occasion. Egeus, an Athenian nobleman, marches into Theseus’s court with his daughter, Hermia, and two young men, Demetrius and Lysander. Egeus wishes Hermia to marry Demetrius (who loves Hermia), but Hermia is in love with Lysander and refuses to comply. Egeus asks for the full penalty of law to fall on Hermia’s head if she flouts her father’s will. Theseus gives Hermia until his wedding to consider her options, warning her that disobeying her father’s wishes could result in her being sent to a convent or even executed. Nonetheless, Hermia and Lysander plan to escape Athens the following night and marry in the house of Lysander’s aunt, some seven leagues distant from the city. They make their intentions known to Hermia’s friend Helena, who was once engaged to Demetrius and still loves him even though he jilted her after meeting Hermia. Hoping to regain his love, Helena tells Demetrius of the elopement that Hermia and Lysander have planned. At the appointed time, Demetrius stalks into the woods after his intended bride and her lover; Helena follows behind him.
In these same woods are two very different groups of characters. The first is a band of fairies, including Oberon, the fairy king, and Titania, his queen, who has recently returned from India to bless the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta. The second is a band of Athenian craftsmen rehearsing a play that they hope to perform for the duke and his bride. Oberon and Titania are at odds over a young Indian prince given to Titania by the prince’s mother; the boy is so beautiful that Oberon wishes to make him a knight, but Titania refuses. Seeking revenge, Oberon sends his merry servant, Puck, to acquire a magical flower, the juice of which can be spread over a sleeping person’s eyelids to make that person fall in love with the first thing he or she sees upon waking. Puck obtains the flower, and Oberon tells him of his plan to spread its juice on the sleeping Titania’s eyelids. Having seen Demetrius act cruelly toward Helena, he orders Puck to spread some of the juice on the eyelids of the young Athenian man. Puck encounters Lysander and Hermia; thinking that Lysander is the Athenian of whom Oberon spoke, Puck afflicts him with the love potion. Lysander happens to see Helena upon awaking and falls deeply in love with her, abandoning Hermia. As the night progresses and Puck attempts to undo his mistake, both Lysander and Demetrius end up in love with Helena, who believes that they are mocking her. Hermia becomes so jealous that she tries to challenge Helena to a fight. Demetrius and Lysander nearly do fight over Helena’s love, but Puck confuses them by mimicking their voices, leading them apart until they are lost separately in the forest.
When Titania wakes, the first creature she sees is Bottom, the most ridiculous of the Athenian craftsmen, whose head Puck has mockingly transformed into that of an ass. Titania passes a ludicrous interlude doting on the ass-headed weaver. Eventually, Oberon obtains the Indian boy, Puck spreads the love potion on Lysander’s eyelids, and by morning all is well. Theseus and Hippolyta discover the sleeping lovers in the forest and take them back to Athens to be married—Demetrius now loves Helena, and Lysander now loves Hermia. After the group wedding, the lovers watch Bottom and his fellow craftsmen perform their play, a fumbling, hilarious version of the story of Pyramus and Thisbe. When the play is completed, the lovers go to bed; the fairies briefly emerge to bless the sleeping couples with a protective charm and then disappear. Only Puck remains, to ask the audience for its forgiveness and approval and to urge it to remember the play as though it had all been a dream.
Audition Preparation and Materials
A NOTE FROM THE DIRECTOR
Thank you so much for thinking about auditioning for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. My name is Michael Bernard and I will be directing the play this summer. I want to stress that you do not need to have any experience with Shakespeare in order to be in this production. Part of the work we will be doing this summer is working on the text as a group. For me Midsummer is one of the most tremendously fun and funny plays ever written. My hope is the show will be full of physical comedy to match the verbal humor in the text. I’m looking for people who don’t mind looking silly, falling down, maybe dancing, all while spouting some of the most beautiful language ever written.
WHAT TO PREPARE
Students are ask to prepare two short contrasting classic or contemorary mologues for the intial auditions. If interested in being considered for a particular role you may want to select a monologue spoken by that character. (View Character Monologues from A Midsummer Night's Dream) Students will be asked to prepare selected material from the play for the callbacks.
HOW TO FIND THE PERFECT MONOLOGUE by BECCA BALLENGER
Here are our tips for conducting your own hunt for monologues.
1. Read a lot of plays.
There’s no shortcut here—you’ve got to read plays. The most unique pieces are discovered by you, not a coach or a book.
TIP: If you don’t know where to start, think of a stage actor who is similar in type to you. Do a web search of the plays in which they have performed and the playwrights with which they have worked. Then, seek out those plays and playwrights. For example, if you identify with Alison Pill, you might want to look up Theresa Rebeck or David Harrower’s Blackbird.
2. Don’t depend on monologue books.
While these books can be good resources, in order to do a monologue well, you really need to know its context within the arc of the play as a whole. Moreover, the monologues listed in books are often the ones that actors perform most often. If you find a monologue in a book get a sense of its context. If it looks like something you could imagine performing, read the entire play thoroughly before you ever bring that monologue into an audience. Make sure you understand not only the text but the context — how the text you’re speaking fits into the performance tradition around the play, the rise and fall of the play’s action and the character’s arc.
TIP: If you read a monologue in a monologue book that you like (whether or not it’s a monologue you could do), write down the name of the playwright. Then take a look them up online to view their other plays. Take a look at the character description to see if you are right for any of the rolls. Then, find the plays, read them, and discover a great monologue or two. Rinse, dry, repeat.
3. Think outside the box.
Look at one-act plays, anthologies, and play publishing houses.
TIP: The Humana Festival at the Actors Theatre of Louisville publishes an annual anthology of great new plays that are on the cusp of getting big, and Playscripts publishes a ton of indie plays (and offers significant portions of the text online for free).
4. Focus on monologues that are active.
It’s not hard to find a chunk of text in a play to use as a monologue. The important thing is finding a monologue that is active, playable, and engaging for you and the audience.
TIP: In an audition, where you want to impress a casting director in a short amount of time, look for a monologue with an arc (where the character ends up in a different place than where he or she started) and a clear character want (for example, to make the other character fall in love with you). Here’s a great example of a monologue with an arc and a clear want: http://stageagent.com/monologues/483/the-normal-heart/dr-emma-brookner
Avoid “story” monologues (“When I was a kid, I loved tomatoes…”) or “rant” monologues (“I hate riding the bus. Always have…”). Save those for class or the play itself. It’s often helpful if the monologue is addressed to another person onstage, where you are trying to get something from that other character.
5. Be true to yourself.
Know the context and the character, but also make sure you are in touch with what makes you unique. A monologue is an opportunity not only to share the story of a character, but to give the auditor a window into what makes you special. Are you an ingénue with a quirky side? Choose a monologue that lets the auditor see that you can play that ingénue they’re looking for, but that you have something that makes you shine above the rest. Show your quirk.
Final Word: Let’s say you’ve followed all these tips and you’re deep into your search. How do you decide which monologues are the best for you? It may sound cliché, but the key is to follow your intuition. If a monologue seems great, but just doesn’t feel exciting to you, pass it on to a friend. The best monologues are the ones to which you connect on a deep level and that you love to perform.
TIP: Never stop looking for monologues. As you continue to mature as an artist, get more training, or simply change emotionally, you need to keep finding pieces that fit who you are at that moment. Didn’t we mention that it’s a long-term process?
Check out StageAgent’s great monologue resource.
Sparknotes.com has some terrific material and information including character analysis and a side by side translation with the verse and prose dialogue on one side and a modern language version on the other. VIEW
Brian McDonald is an award-winning actor, director, and educator. He appeared in the National Tours of Miss Saigon and Forever Plaid. Regionally, he appeared on the stages of the Denver Center, Theatre Virginia, The Lyric Stage, La Miranda performing Arts Center, Ensemble Theatre Company, Pasadena Playhouse, Thousand Oaks Performing Arts Center and the Ahmanson. As an actor, Brian was honored with many awards, including the Ventura Mayors’ Award for Emerging Artist, LA Weekly’s Best Supporting Actor Award and an Independent Award for his most recent performance in the one-man-show, Buyer and Cellar.
Brian also directed for various regional theaters including 7 Angels Theatre Company, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and Rubicon Theatre Company. For Rubicon, Brian directed the critically acclaimed world premiere of A Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, A Tuna Christmas, The Sunset Limited (with Joe Spano and Tucker Smallwood), Bus Stop (5 Ovation nominations including Best Play), MASTER HAROLD… and the boys (nominated for 3 Ovation awards Including Best Play) and the World Premiere musical, Hello! My Baby, written and conceived by Tony-nominated, Emmy, and Golden Globe winner, Cheri Steinkellner. He also conceived and directed the critically acclaimed holiday musical review, A Rubicon Family Christmas. Brian’s work as a director has earned him an Independent Award and StageScene LA Award for Best Director.
Brian served as Associate Artistic Director and the Director of Education and Outreach at Rubicon Theatre Company since 2002. He is the founder and program director of Rubicon's Summer Youth Performance Program which offers theatre training intensives in acting, musical theatre, drama, Shakespeare and technical theatre.
Michael Bernard spent 10 years as the Associate Artistic Director of The 52nd Street Project, a nationally recognized theater company that creates original theater with kids from Hell’s Kitchen New York City and theater professionals. At UCB NYC Michael directed a few shows including "The Chipperton Family Vocaltainers Shooby Dooby Dooby Hour" which was an official selection of The HBO Comedy Festival in Aspen. He has also written for Disney, Nickelodeon, Henson Productions, Nick at Nite, DC Comics, Showtime, Spike TV, The Sundance Channel, Noggin, WE, MTV, VH1 and some commercials you probably fast forwarded past. Since moving to California in 2009 he has performed in LA with "Immediate Theater" an improv company made of of ex members of Second City and The Groundlings. He also serves as the Artistic Director of Elements Theater. Michael teaches Theater at UCSB and SBCC.