Frequently Asked Questions
Are parents permitted to watch auditions?
No. Parents are not allowed to watch either initial auditions or callbacks.
If my child is cast, how much will this play cost?
Each actor is asked to pay a one-time supplies fee of $50. This fee enables Bards of Birmingham to purchase set and prop pieces, print programs, rent facilities, and pay other overhead costs associated with the play. An additional costume fee may be assessed in the event of a unique costuming situation; your total expense, including costume, will not exceed $100. If the production experiences a shortfall in funding, we may ask children to participate in a fundraiser.
Are scholarships available?
Yes. Bards does not believe that financial hardship should prevent ANY child from participating in theatre. If your child would like to participate and earns a role in the play, but financial circumstances would make the fee prohibitive, simply write a short paragraph, addressed to Laura Coulter, explaining your need for scholarship funding. Scholarship recipients are always notified privately so actors never become aware which young people are acting on scholarship.
My child wants to audition for the play, but has no acting experience. Does this mean that s/he won't get a role?
Not at all! Bards productions have featured actors who have never before been on stage, along with actors who have been performing since they could speak. Previous acting experience has no bearing on whether or not a child will be cast.
Do you only cast children in your plays?
No, adults are an important part of Bards of Birmingham. Although casting preference is given to actors aged 25 and younger, older adults are often given significant roles. For example, in the Bards production of King Lear, Lear, by necessity, needed to be played by an older man. That actor, Terry Hermes, served not only in the title role but also functioned as a key mentor to younger cast members. Adults who are cast in Bards plays MUST be comfortable working with younger actors and must be willing to behave appropriately.
Are parents permitted to watched rehearsals?
No. Parents sign their children into rehearsal and then are asked to wait elsewhere. If your child is not able to function in a rehearsal setting without a parent present, your child is not yet ready to be in a Bards-caliber production.
A short explanation of the Bards approach to rehearsals and productions:
Bards of Birmingham isn't just about putting on a play.
There are any number of theatre companies who will simply produce a play and get your young actor to memorize and regurgitate lines. It is of critical importance to Bards that when actors take the stage, they not only know their lines and blocking, but what they all mean. We often workshop for 1-2 rehearsals before even commencing a read-through. When we came together to produce Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, we spent a few hours learning about existential philosophy before reading a single word of the script. When we approach Shakespeare, our belief is that a grasp of the historical context, scansion, meter, and performance techniques are essential to make the production successful and meaningful. When approaching Shakespeare's Richard III, not only did we conduct a 6-hour Shakespeare workshop, we also had discussions exploring the impact of the pursuit of power on people, and the consequences of choosing violence.
Actors are encouraged to perform character work outside of rehearsal. We encourage actors to keep character notebooks which include their observations, any pictures, poems or quotes that remind them of their characters. As a director, Laura Coulter has often assembled musical playlists to help cast members relate to the vision of the play as a whole or their character in particular.
We seldom, if ever, permit actors to stay inside of their comfort zones. Sometimes non-dancers will be asked to learn a short dance, non-singers will be asked to sing. Learning and implementing new and terrifying skills are an integral part of what we do, because the complacent actor is the poor actor.
In future productions, we plan on requiring actors to take an active, hands-on role in costuming under the guidance of our official costumers. If an actor finishes a production with the same insights and skills with which he or she began the production, we feel that we've failed.
Our actors often learn technical skills which prove extremely useful. One young actor, who learned as a 10-year-old Bard to run light and sound systems, was recently tapped to run light and sound (at the age of 12!!!) for an adult theatre company in Birmingham.
Put simply, BARDS IS ABOUT APPROACHING THE WHOLE PERSON, not just about the play.