New audition class offers theater students practical experiences

“In the acting world your profession is 99 percent audition and only 1 percent getting the job,” said
Lisa Soland, adjunct instructor of theater and instructor for the new audition class. “The better you are,
the easier it is to be employed.”

In preparation for job opportunities and career paths, the MC Theatre Department has offered
students an audition techniques class that meets every Monday from 3:30 – 7:00 p.m.

Soland works with the young performers weekly to coach them on audition material and answer
questions about the process. The class gives students an opportunity to build their skills by working
directly with professionals of the field and interact with other performers in setting. Over the course of
the 8-week program, the participants will rehearse and perform new monologues, prepare resumes and
receive a full casting experience.

“As educators, we are responsible in helping bridge the gap between this institution and the real
world,” Soland said. “Hopefully through this class, it won’t be a leap into real-world work experience,
but merely a step for students.”

On Mon., Feb. 25, a special guest from Knoxville’s Talent Trek Agency visited the class.

Juanelle Walker and sister Charlotte Dennison own and operate the 30-year business and know
exactly what to look for in up-and-coming talents.

The Talent Trek duo has assisted with casting for several accredited shows, including “Army Wives,”
“Drop Dead Divas,” “Vampire Diaries,” several Tyler Perry films and, most recently, the TV show
Nashville and the award-winning “The Hunger Games.”

“I knew we needed this class,” said associate professor of theater at MC, Dr. Heather McMahon.
“This is the way to turn college students into professional actors. Every interview is an audition.”

McMahon said that students would now have an idea of how to express themselves professionally
during an audition.

“This is a real casting experience,” said Dennison the representative from Talent Trek Agency during
her visit. “This is the first time they have seen this material, but we are looking for who delivers the best

A chair and table were set before the students with Dennison sitting in the front to represent the
type of environment that performers will face. Each student in class was given an individual part in a
script to read. After a short, 10-minute preparation with a partner, students presented to the casting
director with a real resume and headshot. Students attempted to present their piece of the script.

“The best advice I could give future performers is to be prepared for anything,” Dennison said. “All
casting directors want something different.”

MC junior Caitlin Campbell said that she was nervous during the simulated audition.

“It is like a natural high, a way of testing myself and my abilities,” Campbell said.

McMahon said that the monologue process for an audition is terrifying.

“You only have a 30-second monologue to present yourself,” McMahon said. “At the most, you will
have 90 seconds. There are 200 other people in line, so realizing the odds, it’s pretty scary.”

Several students in the class have already had the opportunity to apply the techniques from class in
real auditions.

Campbell and fellow student, sophomore Cameron Hite, will both be going to The Barter Theatre to
audition for a summer internship. Campbell will perform two monologues and a song for the audition.

“One is comedic, one is dramatic and my song, ‘So this is Love’ is one of my favorites,” Campbell said.
“The hardest part about auditioning is finding monologues that are true to yourself, but I have comfort
in having these monologues under my belt.”

McMahon said that she is pleased students are applying what they have learned within the class.

“We are very excited to offer this opportunity to our students, knowing it is invaluable,” McMahon

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