Did you hear that?
If you didn't, you're not alone. It is one of those things that has tectonic impact that goes largely unnoticed. What am I talking about? The new innovation that is happening right here in north Texas. Except, that's not entirely true- because it's happening all across the U.S. "Virtually." When Covid shut down travel and so many aspects of person to person contact, it presented a problem: how were graduating high school students going to audition and apply for college theater programs? How were college faculty going to connect with high school students? College Audition Prep Weekend (CAPW) had gone virtual the previous summer for our summer program which brings students from across Texas and beyond with college theater faculty from across the U.S. to preview their programs and work on developing their audition skills with the very people they would later be auditioning for. Sort of, "speed dating" for college. The students get some excellent feedback from faculty with Broadway backgrounds and years of college teaching experience and the faculty get a preview of the talent that is coming their way in a year or two.
Then the North Texas Drama Auditions(NTDA)- a staple audition event for many years- closed up shop, leaving a void for students in north Texas trying to connect with colleges. It didn't take long for locals to approach CAPW to suggest their model could be applied to the college audition market. Taking what we had learned from going virtual during the Covid shut downs, we realized we could bring something new to the party. One of the important aspects of NTDA's mission was to make colleges accessible to a wide spectrum of students from all economic backgrounds. Applying a live/via Zoom audition model allowed students to be seen by an equally broad spectrum of college theater programs, literally from coast to coast. (You can see a full list of the 34 participating college theater programs at www.nationalcollegeaudition.com) Not only does it save students' families money spent on traveling to distant cities and campuses, but it saves college faculty having to spend money traveling on so many recruiting trips.
This week from their classrooms, living rooms and bedrooms, with the help of teachers and each other, students will be singing into the cameras of their laptops as a hundred college directors sitting in their offices around the country watch, taking notes. After the student sings and performs his monologues, calls, texts and emails go out extending invitations to callback interviews which will lead to next steps in the acceptance process for these college programs.
Sure, ideally, everyone would love to be together live, in the same room auditioning. But in the real world, this is an economical alternative that actually provides more opportunity for more students and colleges to come together in a relaxed forum. Colleges can follow up with students they are interested in and it's a more efficacious use of everyone's time. Furthermore, professional auditions for commercials, films and theater are happening more and more by video submission. So students are going to have to develop virtual audition skills anyway. So will virtual auditions replace in-person auditions? No, but they will certainly be in integral first (and maybe second) step in the process in the 21st century. There is every reason to anticipate that this trend will continue and expand in years to come. After all, money saved from travel can be applied to scholarships and other areas of a college budget.
If your wondering where some of those students are going to end up? Follow this blog and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We'll be highlighting some of our students as they go on their college journey and beyond as they work to break into the entertainment industry.