Here are 5 key questions parents should ask themselves, and their child, in order to determine if their child is indeed ready to begin auditioning for productions.
#1: Is your child begging to perform on stage? (This is the easiest question to answer!)
When you take your son or daughter to a live theatre performance are they the child saying, “I want to be on that stage!” or “How can I do that?”
It is imperative that your child is driven to perform because, if they are cast in a show, a lot will be asked of them and it will be their passion and drive that will get them through the long and sometimes tedious hours of rehearsals and performances.
#2: Who wants this more, the child or the parents? (Who doesn’t love to watch their child perform?)
This can be a really tough question for parents to answer honestly. When a child has natural talent, parents might feel compelled towards having them audition for local theater productions even though the child is not really interested in doing so. We as parents LOVE to watch our children perform, especially when they are good at something! However, parents need to
remember that if their child lands a role, their child will be doing the work of memorizing lines, cues, blocking, lyrics, choreography, costume changes, etc… and it is not fair to the child, the director, or the rest of the cast and crew if they are not 100% invested and wanting to be there. Also, if parents have children audition before they truly want to, it can turn them off of performing altogether. What a shame that would be!
#3: Is your family willing to make the sacrifices and commitment? (Your child is the actor, but you become manager, chauffeur, and bank!)
Once a child actor begins to audition and get cast in shows, it becomes very time-consuming, and costly, for both the child actor as well as the parents! In fact, it can become almost like a part time job for a parent to act as a manager for their child.
Some of the tasks and costs involved are:
-organizing head shots
-creating and constantly updating a resume
-staying connected to sites that list auditions and signing up for audition time slots
-supporting the child in choosing and preparing monologues and songs for the auditions
-taking your child for private acting and voice lessons to work on the material so that it is audition ready
-driving to rehearsals all over town up to 5 days/nights per week
-helping the child with memorization
-oftentimes volunteering for the theatre company with ushering, PR and more. Most shows have a rehearsal time of 5-8 weeks before the show opens, and then can run for 3-6 weeks.
This will mean many evenings when a parent isn't home to prepare meals, or to support other children with things like homework or bedtime, and it may also mean missing out on siblings’ activities and events.
#4: Is your child mature enough to handle long rehearsals and maintain good behavior and focus? (They can still be kids and have fun-but need to know how to behave well and listen too.)
I think this one is pretty self explanatory. Theatre communities tend to be pretty small and tight knit groups. You wouldn’t want your child to get a reputation for being a challenge to work with just because they may need a little more time to become mature enough to handle the demands that will be placed on them. I always say to our students, “Treat every rehearsal and performance as if it is an audition.” That means be on time, respectful, prepared, and focused!
#5: Is your child capable of handling rejection? (This part is soooo hard on Kids-and for parents who do the consoling!)
The fact of the matter is, there will always be more rejection than success in this industry regardless of how talented someone is. If a child's young ego, or self-esteem is too fragile, this can do some real damage as well as possibly turning them off theatre for life. There needs to be a balance between pursuing their gifts and interests, with understanding this harsh reality of being a working actor.
If after answering these 5 questions you feel confident that your child is wanting to audition and perform more than you were wanting it for them, your family is fully willing to support the time away from home of both the child actor and a parent, they are mature enough to behave well and stay focused through out the rehearsal and performance process, and they are capable of handling disappointment and rejection on a somewhat regular occurrence, then your child is probably ready to begin auditioning for local theaters. The exciting journey begins….
Other blogs in this series will cover information regarding where to find out about auditions, preparing the best material, head shots and resumes, what to wear and bring with you to auditions, what to expect at auditions and callbacks and MORE!