Virtual Auditions: A New Normal?

by Kelly Faherty / Staff Reporter

Due to COVID-19, theatres are taking to Zoom to host auditions. Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

In the world of performing arts, “audition” is a staple term. From Broadway to elementary classrooms, many theatre kids have a repertoire of varying audition anecdotes. At Roosevelt University, the Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA) is a renowned place for both visual and performing arts. Within CCPA, every member has been through both an academic screening and in-person audition process. But what happens when those in-person experiences are reduced to a pair of computer monitors? Due to the pandemic, virtual auditions have taken CCPA by storm this February, and the people involved said they do not hesitate to wonder how this may affect the program now as well as throughout the future. 

CCPA sophomore and student ambassador and musical theatre major Parker Morley affirmed that there is a fundamental difference. “At home, I’d worry about my internet going out. I warmed up in the car, met the admissions counselor and felt an exciting bustle with the new people I’d met,” Morely said. “We all supported each other. This year, I think that is something really missed out on.” 

Musical theatre major, senior and theatre volunteer Amari Gamble shared the sentiment. “It is a different kind of nervous. The nerves that in-person auditions provide is familiar and often aligns with the former experiences an actor had. Now, they must adapt to being nervous alone in their rooms.” 

Aside from simply confirming that there is a rather large difference in the two types of auditions, when led further into conversation, Gamble stated, “I would say that [virtual auditions] save a lot of money. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars travelling. You can really prepare and be in your own routine. Going downstairs to grab a glass of water is a possibility because you aren’t in a brand new room surrounded by people you may not know.” 

Morley disagreed. “Overall, it is more negative, especially in terms of people auditioning. You want to be able to tour your schools to get a sense of where you want to go. Online, you cannot see or feel as much you otherwise could. The result is that you only get to see what the school shows you.” 

As for the faculty’s personal adaption, admissions counselor Becca Skrha said, “ Virtual auditions have presented the CCPA enrollment team with a host of technical challenges, but they have ultimately allowed us to meet students from around the world who may not have been able to travel to us for a live audition in the past. Virtual auditions have increased our overall accessibility.”

Whether loved or loathed, virtual auditions have raised the question of whether this will affect CCPA auditions forever. Morley expressed that he assumed things may return to normalcy. “I think that doing some virtual things may continue. We may adapt to use in-person auditions a bit less, but I see the CCPA switching back fully once there is safety in doing so.” 

Increased accessibility and decreased costs are hard to ignore. With the test of time determining what to decide, CCPA may choose to keep a few virtual audition circumstances for the incoming class of 2022.



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