Fair for all

Nevada Shakespeare Company

Jeanmarie Simpson and Cameron Crain of Nevada Shakespeare Company look to make your audition experience as pleasant as possible.

Jeanmarie Simpson and Cameron Crain of Nevada Shakespeare Company look to make your audition experience as pleasant as possible.

Photo By David Robert

Cameron Crain doesn’t want to be the scary, intimidating director who stirs auditioners’ knees to knocking. Auditioning before Crain won’t be like doing a screen test for Scorsese or Spielberg. It’ll hopefully be closer to presenting a theatrical piece to your own mom or dad in the living room of your own house.

On June 7 beginning at 6 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, Crain will be holding open auditions for the upcoming Nevada Shakespeare Company performance of Julius Caesar (an indictment of the political process, the play will be performed in time for elections, Sept. 10-24). Unlike other auditions you may have attended, actors won’t be allowed to watch one another, which should calm some nerves. Imagining that Crain is not your harshest critic, but rather your biggest fan, is probably your best bet for landing a role. You will need to have two prepared monologues, one Shakespeare piece and another piece of your choice.

“I say be bold with your choices and grab something that really excites you,” Crain says. “If you’re going to pick something, starting from scratch, I’d pick something that people often don’t hear. I mean, there are 38 plays, pick something from the Winter’s Tale instead of Romeo and Juliet.”

Jeanmarie Simpson, NSC’s artistic director, says there’s nothing more awful than sitting through a day of auditions where every actor is self-conscious and desperate.

“I think it’s important that people choose material that they love, that they want to perform, even if it’s a poem, [or] if it’s song lyrics that they just absolutely love,” Simpson says. “Just have fun, and go in there always thinking of an audition as a performance, never, ever, thinking of it as a ‘I hope they like me’ thing.”

NSC needs about 10 actors—sex, age and skin color do not matter—to fill spots in Julius Caesar. While Crain is looking for recruits, Simpson will also be on the lookout for actors for her original Christmastime readers’ theater peace about peace makers throughout history; Simpson’s piece will be a collaboration with Patsy Gehr, a visual artist and one of the founders of Sierra Interfaith Action for Peace.

“If you’re not cast in a role, it’s not because you’re not wonderful,” Simpson says, “and that’s the hardest thing to really make people understand … It’s alchemical. It’s taking 28 people and putting together the right combination, trying to figure out who fits where and what combination is going to work for this project.”

Aside from promoting fairness and balance in the audition process, Crain and Simpson are working toward making NSC a Universal Access organization.

“Universal Access, which is a term that is part of the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] consciousness, is the idea that citizens with disabilities should be in the equation from day one,” Simpson says.

NSC is taking steps to make all of their performances accessible to people with disabilities through physically accessible theaters, large-print playbills, braille programs, signed performances, assisted listening devices and anything else that a person with a disability may need to make their theater experience comfortable and enjoyable.

“It’s tough with Shakespeare. Signers don’t like to sign Shakespeare,” Simpson says.

Considering that about 50 million Americans have a disability, NSC is taking the issue very seriously. The NSC Board of Directors has changed the organization’s mission statement to reflect the Universal Access ideal.

“It’s creating this wonderful tapestry for our work," Simpson says. "It’s all new and all different, so it’s very exciting."