When I went to the Star Wars open auditions last Sunday, I wasn’t sure what to expect. At first I was planning to turn up casually sometime between 11am and 3pm with a decent photo of myself just to see how it went. After doing a bit of research, I found out that at least two thousand people turned up at the Bristol auditions, with many being turned away due to time constraints. At that point I decided to go through with it properly. The helpful information from the UK Open Call twitter and facebook accounts said that gates at Twickenham Stadium would open at 6am – I took this to mean that many people would be arriving much, much earlier than 11 o’clock. I realised I’d probably need to get there at 5am. Rather than take a train from Waterloo to Twickenham at two in the morning, I thought I’d try to make the process more comfortable by staying in a nearby B & B called The Twickenham Guest House. I was quite lucky since I managed to get the last room they had left for Saturday night.
The night before the big event, I had my photo prepared and even an acting CV ready and waiting for the next day. Looking at the brief again, it seemed general enough. No specifications for height, hair/eye colour or race, just playing age (not a problem because I’m sometimes still mistaken for being fourteen years old). As for being considered “beautiful” or “athletic”, I guessed that would be their decision. Knowing that I’d have to queue for a long time, I packed several layers and the next morning I had the lovely experience of waking up at 4am. After knocking back an emergency instant coffee I managed to get to the stadium around 5am, only to find out that there was already a formidable queue forming. So the long wait began…
The long queues for the auditions have reached a somewhat legendary reputation by looking at posts from other auditionees. Perhaps it was due to tiredness or that I chatted away the five hours with interesting people I met in the queue, it didn’t seem to be that long at all. When we’d finally passed into daylight hours and began to emerge from within the stadium walls like Nosferatu, the casting directors actually decided to start two hours earlier than planned which I felt quite grateful for. We were informed that the first stop would be the “Primping Tent” where you’d be able to prepare yourself in front of a mirror before being judged, and then on to meet one of the casting directors. If you were what they were looking for you’d get through to the next stage, which was a cold reading. When it came to my turn, I was greeted by a friendly team member who looked at my photo and asked how old I was. After that someone else took my photo and application form, dropped it into a mysterious box and I was duly sent home by 10:30am. Am I disappointed? Well, not really.
I can understand that many of the auditionees were less than impressed with the waiting time, especially if they didn’t get through to the next stage. I think perhaps because there’s a misunderstanding here. Unfortunately that’s what open casting calls can be like, and sadly you’re not entitled to anything even after queuing for a long time. If you really want to succeed in anything, there will usually be competition. For something that is being dubbed as “an opportunity of a lifetime”, especially with such a large fan base like Star Wars, there will be a mountain of competition and it won’t be easy. I felt that the important thing here was that as long as you participate, you’re in with a chance. There may be a call back for anything that comes up later on that they think you’re suitable for, and even if you don’t get it, you might meet some decent people along the way.
The next set of open auditions are scheduled for this weekend at the Glasgow Science Centre. Good luck to those who are going!