From Home to the Stage

Theatre Students Audition for UIL

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Photo courtesy of Sarah Johnson

Sophomore Ben McDanald invests all his emotions into portraying the role of Connor. He chose that particular scene because it showed a variety of emotions which captures the character at his finest. “It showed a giant character change in Conor when he finally accepts that his mom is going to die, and we can see him become emotionally vulnerable for the first time,” McDanald said.

Rachana Kommineni, Reporter

Theatre UIL is where theatre groups from different high schools compete against each other. Last week, theatre director Alisa Mirabella held auditions for “A Monster Calls.” New and familiar faces showed up to the auditions eager to do a job well done. 

Sophomore Ben McDanald and his sister, freshman Courtney McDanald, were happy to audition for UIL together for the first time in high school. During auditions, Courtney said she felt very comfortable performing on stage with Ben because of their bond with each other and her admiration for him. 

“I’ve always looked up to him, and he’s just such a phenomenal actor that I feel so much power in the scene when I’m doing the scene with him,” Courtney said. “This isn’t my first time performing with Ben, but this is my first time performing with him in high school, so it feels more serious but also more exciting.”

Courtney said that being able to choose a scene from the actual play allowed her more time to explore the role of the mom before auditions. She said that it is always a struggle to find quality audition material that suits the part you are auditioning for, so she thinks that this method of auditions is extremely easy for students.

“I wanted to audition for the mom because it seems like a challenging part to be given with an illness and it seemed like such a sweet part to play,” Courtney said. 

Auditioning has always been a scary thing for Courtney and she said that this year was a lot less stressful because everyone was performing in front of each other which made it seem like everything was fine.

“Not having callbacks is good because callbacks are very stressful and I love just having to do the audition and then having M cast it,” Courtney said.

On the other hand, junior MJ Kelly has experienced the audition process on numerous occasions. Due to COVID, this year’s auditions ran a little differently, as all performers were required to use masks and be six feet apart.  

“[The audition process] was pretty typical,” Kelly said. “The biggest difference was just having to sit super far apart, but that didn’t bug me much.” 

Despite auditioning for the lead, Connor, Ben was cast in the ensemble. Ben said that he understands why he didn’t get the main role, and he is excited to try something new by being part of the ensemble. 

“An important part of theatre is disappointment because nobody is going to get the desired role 100% of the time,” Ben said. “It’s how you deal with what you were given and your response to the challenge that makes a good actor.”

As someone who’s been a part of the theater community for many years, Kelly felt that this year’s UIL was a must. She said that she enjoys roles that are emotionally powerful and energetic, and when she received the role of the mom, she was very happy. 

“I suffer from severe depression among other things and I genuinely thought that if I didn’t have some theatre interaction soon, I would go downhill very fast,” Kelly said. “The role of the mom is super emotionally involved because of her cancer diagnosis, and that’s why I went for her.” 

Courtney said that she was thrilled with her part in the ensemble since it was the role she was aiming for this year because she felt that it would be weird having a freshman as the lead. She said she loves the fact that there are so many opportunities with every role you get.

“Casting is completely unpredictable and I think it’s important to know that if you don’t get the part you want, that’s ok and as long as you tried your best then it’s all good,” Courtney said.