I was really pleased with how auditions went today. Splitting the warm-up/ physical exercise with Greg (The Cherry in Bloom) worked really well. We had a series of seemingly random objects- an umbrella, a pair of socks, a porcelain cat-doll, a baguette, and a plastic golf ball- and instructed each performer to pick up the one that drew them in the most. We told them to walk around the space and get acquainted with the object. Then we had them imagine the object as a dark secret, and asked them to allow that secret/object to affect their body starting from an intensity level of one and ending at ten. This was really helpful for me in discovering who was willing to push their physicality into an imaginative and abstract place. They way people allowed the object to affect them also revealed whether they were a Havilland or a Simian; almost invariably, people chose one or the other. All of the Simian’s engaged seductively or romantically with their secret; they enjoyed possessing and having a relationship with it. Conversely, the Havilland’s were tortured by the secret, beholden to its whims. There was a clear distinction between who leaned toward the darkness and who became victimized by it.
During the cold readings I was looking for specific vocal and physical cues from the performers. For the Simians, I was looking for a slinking smoothness of both vocal and physical quality. I wanted to see if they could take on the role of a seductive predator and lure in their respective Havilland’s. For the Havilland’s, I wanted to see a thin veil of composure and social nicety, as is expected in real estate agents, with deep frantic movement underneath.
Surprisingly, I didn’t see any impactful female Havilland’s. The best ones, the people who really embraced the frayed paranoia of Havilland, were all male. However, I did end up calling back one woman for Havilland because I’m not sure that I want to relinquish the gender dynamic set up in the script. I also saw two very compelling Simians; one male, one female. I don’t think I would mind casting this show gender blind, but it will impose a whole new dynamic onto the show that I haven’t fully thought about yet.