New Ideas fly on the wall – callbacks

Last year, when I covered New Ideas rehearsals for the blog, I visited three rehearsals – one show from each week of the festival. This year, I thought I’d try something different and follow one show’s progress through casting and rehearsals: Summer’s End, by Alumnae member (and member of the New Play Development group) Francine Dick, directed by NIF co-founder (and my pal) Kerri MacDonald.

Saturday, January 15 – Callbacks. Due to space restrictions at the theatre, with the main stage show into its last week of rehearsals and rentals about the place, some of the NIF callbacks were booked at Fraser Studios (Danforth/Broadview). I show up shortly before my 3:30 p.m. call time, bumping into Alum gal Brenda Somers (appearing in The Real Inspector Hound), who was also heading for the same location for her callbacks.

Francine and Kerri arrived shortly after, and after a bit of confusion – several NIF play callbacks had been booked for the same day, in two different spaces – we sorted out where we were supposed to be and waited while Rosemary Doyle’s callbacks finished up in Studio One.

The cast of Summer’s End includes three sisters: two in their late 40s/early 50s and a mid-20-something half-sister; I was prepped to read the two older sisters. We saw about half a dozen actors – half for the younger sister/half for the older sisters (some of the actors called back were unable to make it or had become unavailable for the run). In the end, I read the younger of the two older gals.

Being an audition reader is all the fun of an audition with none of the pressure. Kerri had us do some pretty fun, wacky stuff too: read as lawyers, as children, good cop/bad cop, in stage whispers. And, of course, in between seeing folks, Francine and Kerri would chat about individual actors and pairings (which I cannot divulge here, for obvious reasons). Nothing bad, just speaking about strengths, limitations, best pairings for the older sisters – like that.

After this, Francine and Kerri move on to the casting meeting, where all the NIF writer/director teams meet with the producers to duke it out and otherwise bargain for their dream cast. I like to call that part of the process “the NIF draft pick.”

Next stop on my NIF trip: the first read-through, which will likely be in early February.


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