Brigid  continues her chat with Melbourne’s directors:

DEBBIE KEYT – Director, Beaumaris Theatre Company
Debbie Keyt has been acting forever and has enjoyed a great variety of roles primarily on the stages of STAG, MLOC, MOTTS, Beaumaris and other companies. Since 2003 Debbie has entered the exciting world of directing and thrives on the many challenges and rewards it has to offer. She has directed Return to the Forbidden Planet, Smiley – the Musical, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Steel Magnolias, Charlotte’s Web, Anne of Green Gables, Peter Pan and The Sound of Music.
Before running auditions, do you ‘approach/talk to’ experienced performers to audition or do you just wait and see who rolls up?
When directing a show, if I can think of actors I know would suit roles, I encourage them to audition, without promising them anything, because you never know who will turn up at auditions.

Do you ‘encourage’ experienced performers to audition for your productions or do you prefer to give ‘new comers’ an opportunity?
Of course, having experienced actors in any cast is a huge bonus and lifts the whole production and sometime head hunting, after the audition process means getting the best people for the role and after all good casting is vitally important. It is always fantastic to give new comers a chance, if possible, and generally if they can be cast in minor or cameo roles to learn more form the more experienced actors. When I directed Peter Pan last year, I cast a young guy who had never worked on stage before (other than a few school productions), and he was just perfect.

What do you look for in an audition? 
At auditions I look for performers who come prepared and make an effort to prepare a resume and dress up and look their best. Also another thing that impresses me is actors who’ve done their research and know about the character and or production. I also like thoughtful actors who ask questions about what is expected of them at the audition and insightful questions are good too. Generally, it is that magic X Factor you are looking for in a performer. Generally giving your all is all you can ask of actors.

Have you decided what you are looking for before auditions or are you ‘open’ to new ideas?
It is very difficult not to have any pre conceived ideas whatsoever, so I always have something in mind and when the right person turns up who ticks all the boxes that is very exciting. As a director, you also have to have a very open mind too, and let actors bring what they will to the table.

If you don’t get the perfect fit for the roles in your production, do you ‘take it on the chin’ and just cast from whoever has auditioned OR do you put out a call for more people to audition?
Experience has taught me not to just take what you get at auditions. if you can’t cast after the auditions, head hunting is the best way to go and then you will be assured of the right actors for the part. Never settle, always keep searching until you find just what it is you are looking for and you won’t be sorry.

If you are ‘stuck’ for a suitable person for a particular role, do you contact experienced performers to fill the gap?
If I was really stuck, I would certainly call experienced actors I know, and failing that would call other directors and pick their brains too. Many times the right person is generally right under your nose.

Do you believe that anybody really ‘pre-casts’ these days?
Some directors probably do pre-cast, especially for certain roles, but it would probably be rare. Pre-casting denies you of the joy of the audition process which is a great experience and you really do never know who is out there.
Brigid DeNeefe has been a performer for over 25 years in both the amateur and professional world, covering many different musical genres including opera, musical theatre, big band, jazz and cabaret.