This is my first official blog entry in the history of my blogging life. Yes, I’m willing to lose my blogging virginity to tell the very cool story of how Tyler Pierce got cast as Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment at Berkeley Rep.
People have been asking how I “discovered” this wonderful actor. Not to put on a mask of false humility, but I’m not sure any casting director discovers any particular actor -– although I know what they mean. And here’s the story:
When we do auditions for shows, actors are given “sides" — scenes they need to read for the role or roles they are auditioning for. We also hire a “reader,” whose job it is to sit in the audition and play opposite the actors. The reader sits in a chair with their back to us, so that the actor auditioning has the focus.
So, after completing local auditions here in Berkeley for Sarah Ruhl’s play In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), director Les Waters and I went to New York to audition more actors for the show. I hired a New York casting director named Janet Foster to help put together a casting session for us, and after receiving submissions from agents and culling through her files she put together two days of auditions for various roles in the play.
Tyler Pierce was hired to be our reader for the two days of Next Room auditions -— three days, actually, because we then did a day of callbacks. No wait -— make that four days, because after we completed the auditions for the Sarah Ruhl play, we also did a day of auditions for a couple of roles we still needed to cast in The Lieutenant of Inishmore, which is also directed by Les.
We sat in the audition room with Tyler for four straight days while he read with other actors. He read all the other roles in all the sides -— both male and female. We were all struck by Tyler’s generosity while reading with the actors, and how keen his instinct was for what each actor needed to have a successful audition. He amped it up a little when necessary, toned it down when that seemed to be the right note for another person’s audition, and read Mrs. Givings with a fragility all his very own.
During the lunch break I got on the phone and called Paul Fouquet, another casting director, who was putting together our half-day audition session for Crime and Punishment a few days later. I asked for him to bring Tyler in to read for Raskolnikov -- he had a certain quiet intensity and authenticity that seemed very right for the role, and after hearing him read with many actors over the course of three days it was clear he was a very good actor.
He was also a pleasure to be around all day, and that’s a big part of casting -— finding out who a director wants to be in a room with for six to eight hours a day, every day, for four weeks. There are actors out there who may be very good, but who wind up on the “life is too short” list ... but that’s another story and a blog I will not be writing, even if it would make juicy reading.
When Tyler came in for his audition for Crime and Punishment, he was on fire. He gave a fantastic audition —- he nailed it. There was another actor who was also fantastic and who took a completely different approach to the character, who director Sharon Ott also liked; both were invited to attend “callbacks” a couple of days later. They were both great and yet completely different. At the callback auditions, Sharon worked with both actors individually -— giving adjustments to choices they were making and asking them to re-think preconceived ideas. She worked with them for about 20 minutes each and after the auditions, decided she wanted Tyler for the role. She was struck by his clarity of intention, his facility with language, his beautiful and flexible vocal instrument, and his intensity and passion.
The role was cast!
We offered it to him, he accepted the offer, and now we have the great pleasure of watching his moving and powerful performance through March 29.
This is a great post and is important for people to remember that every action we do counts-- you never know who is watching! Thank you~
An excellent first blog of high quality reading.
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