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Auditions for A Shakespeare Festival take place five months late

The sensation of settling into a plush seat in a dim auditorium, surrounded by strangers, enjoying the musical overture, patiently awaiting the rise of the curtain remains one of the oldest sources of entertainment dating back to the 5th century Greece.

It all starts with the actors at auditions.

The BYU-Idaho Theatre Department has a mainstage performance underway: A Shakespeare Festival, set to open in the Winter of 2021.

Their aim? “Bring the University and Community closer together,” the BYU-I Theatre Facebook page reads.

Student directors, working together with faculty members, will arrange productions of three of the Bard’s most beloved plays: “Henry IV”, “Macbeth” and “As You Like It.”

Before rehearsals start, sets are built and costumes are made, casting needs to happen. That begins with auditions, which come highly anticipated this semester after being postponed from April 24 due to the pandemic.

Auditions for the festival were held Sept. 23-25 in the Eliza R. Snow Performing Arts Center in the Drama Theatre, as well as online over Zoom.

Ruth Call, a junior studying theatre performance, was able to audition in-person.

“It’s difficult to audition online because there’s an energy that literally comes from being in the same space as the show you’re auditioning for,” said Call. “It really, really makes it difficult. It’s not impossible, but not ideal.”

She considers herself “fortunate” to have attended auditions in-person, but her heart is with those unable to. Call says it will be an interesting semester, as their only play will be a radio performance of “An Ideal Husband” by Oscar Wilde. The department cancelled their in-person musical for this semester.

Despite the numerous discouraging obstacles presented by social distancing within a social art form, students remain optimistic and committed. Auditions are still an opportunity for young thespians to hone their skills.

“It’s important to try to dig deep into the character and give a realistic performance based on the clues the author is giving you in the script,” said Sariah Cali, a senior studying theatre performance.

Cali read the three plays in addition to the play from which she pulled her monologue, and thoughtfully considered her past experience to prepare for the auditions. The senior admits it’s hard, though.

Both Call and Cali agree that while COVID-19 does complicate the process, they’re confident that things will work out. Or, in the words of William Shakespeare:

“All’s well that ends well.”

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