Even though ice covered most of Central Arkansas, auditions for the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre began Friday at 1 p.m. at Reynolds Performance Hall. 

Matt Chiorini, producing artistic director, said every year he and the directors face about 500 performers who audition. 

Somewhere between 100 to 125 local hopefuls enter the performance hall each year. Videos are sent to the company to be reviewed, and outstanding performers are chosen from there, as well as from auditions in Houston and Memphis that Chiorini attends.
Only 20 will end up in the company.

“It’s a tense time for actors. They have to put everything they have into the three-minute audition. The odds are very against them. It’s probably 10 to one against getting a job,” Chiorini said.

Michael Goodbar, a Hendrix graduate, said this is his year. He said he has tried out before and is “just the right amount of nervous.”
“You have to be a little nervous in this business,” Goodbar said.

Goodbar had two monologues prepared for the directors Friday. One was from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” and the other from Rebecca Gilman’s “Blue Surge.”

Chiorini said it isn’t only a difficult time for those auditioning. 

“It’s hard on our side too, because we have to say no to a lot of people we like. In the end though, we come up with not just actors for a show, but our company of artists for the whole summer. So we really get to be choosy.”

Performers selected will need to meet a criteria that will enable them to scale roles from Shakespeare to Dracula. 

Chiorini said last year’s “The Producers” called for tap dancers. The same actors filling those roles were expected to fill Shakespeare’s classic tragedy “Macbeth.”

“We have to come up with people who don’t do one thing well, but everything well,” Chiorini said.

The Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre is in its fourth year of operation. The company was profiled in New York Times Magazine in 2009. The company hosts the only Shakespeare festival in Arkansas. 

The company will be housed at the University of Central Arkansas. Chiorini said the company gets a lot of support from the university, but they are a stand-alone entity.

Performances will take place at Reynolds Performance Hall, with 18 shows in total. 

Productions this year will be “Henry V,” “The Comedy of Errors,” “Dracula” and “Alice in Wonderland.”

The shows will run from June 16 to July 3. A full schedule and tickets will be available at The Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre’s Web site, www.arkshakes.com.

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at courtney.spradlin@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)