So, you'd like to play a part in Star Trek: Excelsior, would you? That's wonderful. We love to get new voices onboard, and we appreciate the adventurous spirit of everyone who volunteers for Excelsior by sending in an audition. If you want to hear your name in the Excelsior credits one day, here's how you do it:
How to Audition
- At the bottom of this page, you'll find two dialogue blocks. One is the King Lear's desperate monologue in the play that bears his name. The other is an early romantic monologue by Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. Pick one. The one you pick is the one you'll be reading. (You can take either, regardless of your gender.)
- We'll be listening to this to get a sense of your voice, as well as diction, speed, inflection, ability to get in character, and—yes—for sound quality. One of the biggest killers of an audio drama is one character with a bad microphone, so definitely listen to your final recording before sending it in. If you want to show off your wide range of accents or your ability to sound exactly like a computer or whatever special talent you have, this is the time to do it.
- If you've never recorded anything before, here's the simplest way to do it. If you've never done this before: Windows has a built-in sound recorder, in Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> Entertainment. While it's not the ideal application, it will work fine for the audition. Mac users: you may have to install some freeware, if your computer didn't come with OS X's wonderful Sound Editor program or with any version of Garage Band. Try Monkeybread SR 1.1.
- Save the lines as an mp3 or wav file. If you really can't figure out how to do that using your default application (GarageBand typically outputs .m4a, and Windows Sound Recorder outputs .wma), just send whatever you're able to save. Typically, we can unpack it or convert it. If not, we'll get in touch with you.
- E-mail the file as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure your message includes—at least—your first name and last initial, the part you auditioned for, and, most importantly, a return address where we can reach you! Furthermore: if you're responding to a specific casting call (which we periodically send out), note that. If you're just sending in a general audition, willing to take whatever part happens to be available at the time, note that, too; it can be incredibly difficult to secure talented actors and actresses for the little parts—but it's often those parts that make an episode. Every voice helps.
- If your audio file exceeds 10 MB in size, you probably have won't be able to send it via e-mail. Not to worry; upload the file to a file-hosting site like SendSpace or FileFactory and just send us the download link they give you instead of an attachment.
- We will notify you—typically within 72 hours, but, if you catch us at a busy part of the production schedule, it could take significantly longer (up to two weeks)—that your audition has been received.
- Once we've actually listened to your audition, if we're pleased and there's a part immediately available, we'll ask you right then and there to do some lines for us. Otherwise (and this is what more frequently happens), we'll ask your permission to put your name on The List, which is our directory of people we contact before open auditions whenever a part comes up. (Right now, there are about a half-dozen people on The List, plus some people from post-production who are willing to do bit parts.) The other possibility is that we will reject you outright. This is always an ego-bruiser, but it's better than never hearing from us.
May the Great Bird of the Galaxy bless your planet. We hope to hear from you soon.
Audition Dialogue Blocks
Block the First: KING LEAR, Act II, Scene 4
O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars
Are in the poorest thing superfluous.
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man's life is cheap as beast's. Thou art a lady:
If only to go warm were gorgeous,
Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear'st
Which scarcely keeps thee warm. But, for true need-
You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!
You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,
As full of grief as age; wretched in both.
If it be you that stirs these daughters' hearts
Against their father, fool me not so much
To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger,
And let not women's weapons, water drops,
Stain my man's cheeks! No, you unnatural hags!
I will have such revenges on you both
That all the world shall- I will do such things-
What they are yet, I know not; but they shall be
The terrors of the earth! You think I'll weep.
No, I'll not weep.
I have full cause of weeping, but this heart
Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws
Or ere I'll weep. O fool, I shall go mad!
Block the Second: ROMEO AND JULIET, Act II, Scene 2
Thou know'st the mask of night is on my face,
Else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek
For that which thou hast heard me speak to-night
Fain would I dwell on form, fain, fain deny
What I have spoke: but farewell compliment!
Dost thou love me? I know thou wilt say 'Ay,'
And I will take thy word: yet if thou swear'st,
Thou mayst prove false; at lovers' perjuries
Then say, Jove laughs. O gentle Romeo,
If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully:
Or if thou think'st I am too quickly won,
I'll frown and be perverse an say thee nay,
So thou wilt woo; but else, not for the world.
In truth, fair Montague, I am too fond,
And therefore thou mayst think my 'havior light:
But trust me, gentleman, I'll prove more true
Than those that have more cunning to be strange.
I should have been more strange, I must confess,
But that thou overheard'st, ere I was ware,
My true love's passion: therefore pardon me,
And not impute this yielding to light love,
Which the dark night hath so discovered.
We get this question all the time. Everyone else in audio drama, anywhere, posts actual dialogue for the actual parts they are actually casting. That is certainly easier for all concerned. We find great value in pushing auditioners through Shakespeare, though, and if you understand why you'll give a much better audition.
We do Shakespeare because it forces auditioners to act. Basically everyone who's ever seen Star Trek knows how the basic "Shields up!" and "I want you all in the briefing room immediately," ought to sound. If we give you those lines, you'll sound like a real Starfleet officer without even trying. But then, when we cast you, we find out you don't have any depth. You can do the disconnected lines great, but when we try to coalesce them into a character, and we throw in a really hard scene that demands subtlety and grace and lots of characterization that happens beneath the words, there's nothing. We get back more competent, disconnected lines, and the scene fails.
Shakespeare is not going to let you get away with autopilot. These are long passages. You have to think about the character, and you have to think about how to breathe life into these lines. If you read them the same way we all read Shakespeare in English class reading sessions in high school (bored to tears, struggling over the long words, the same half-monotone for every line be it hilarious or heart-rending), we will hear it, instantly, and that tells us most of what we want to know, technicals aside, from your audition. You must act if you want to get good roles. The audition-listener's heart has to break and soar with the timbre of your delivery.
The other reason we use Shakespeare specifically is because he is hard to read. Possibly the biggest problem in Excelsior's voice acting is when an actor fails to understand the line he is reading, assumes it means something other than it actually means, and thus completely misses the delivery, making everybody in the listening audience go, "Huh?" Recuts are very difficult to do, logisitically, so we really really want to bring on actors who don't need extra takes. This happens particularly when an actor (or actress) does not recognize a word, or at least does not understand how it is being used in the sentence being read, and misses it -- or when he hasn't read the context surrounding his line and so doesn't really understand the scene. Shakespeare, again, is not going to let you get away with that. You have to take some incredibly difficult language and unpack it until you sound like a normal, modern person. Your ability to enunciate not just each word but each letter will be taxed to the utmost. You have to figure out where to pause, where to breathe (hint: the end of the line is not always the correct answer!), how to interpret every word and exactly what the character is feeling.
Shakespeare thus does a very good job of ferreting out information about actors that we can't get any other way. Here is a small and very rough-and-ready demonstration of what I am talking about. I hope that helps explain things!