Justin Dresner and Alexandra Aird are both freshman at Northwestern who I spoke with just after they had left the theater. They had arrived at 1:00, starting about six blocks away, and seemed slightly disgruntled at waiting that long for what they experienced. It was Dresner who gave me my first description of what actually is occurring during these auditions, and unfortunately, the answer is not all that much.
“Cattle call is a very apt word for it,” Dresner said. “It was mainly just a line of people in front of a table. At the table there was a casting director and an assistant who was helping her out with sorting headshots. She made an announcement for our group that basically stated this is just a meet and greet, you’re not auditioning, you’re not reading anything. We’re just looking at you and getting your information so that if we think that you could be a fit for either one of the two roles we’re looking for or any other role, we have your information and have you on file. Then it was just walking up, shaking hands, saying hi and introducing yourself. Trying as hard as you can in the span of about five seconds to make a lasting impression, which is nigh on impossible to do. Then walking out back into the cold.”
“You’re forgetting the alphabet graham crackers,” Aird added. “That was nice. Probably the highlight.”
Still, even when I carried the news of what was actually happening inside to those in line, their hope wasn’t diminished. The group from the charter school was still excited about the opportunity to meet a casting director, regardless of whether they got to read any lines.