Many actors, pro and amateur, will tell you that the most uncomfortable part of the job is the audition. The actor stands on a stage being judged, not knowing what the person judging him really wants.
Rob Kastil understands this. The 59-year-old director -- who will be holding tryouts Tuesday and Wednesday for Alan Ayckbourn's "Bedroom Farce" at Las Vegas Little Theatre -- tries to make the process as painless as possible.
He says he doesn't expect actors to do perfect cold readings or to project performance-worthy characterizations. He just looks for a quality, a hint of something that might add a spark to the production.
"A lot of people don't read well," the Chicago native says, "but that doesn't matter to me. You can be a terrible reader and still be a good actor."
Kastil recommends people not worry so much about getting the lines right. He'd rather the actor improvise than stand there squinting trying to see words.
But Kastil isn't suggesting one should go to an audition cold turkey.
"I'm big on people being prepared -- that they've read the script, that they're ready to do something with the character. A lot of people come to auditions without any knowledge of what they're auditioning for. Even if I think they're going in the wrong direction, I can always guide them, make suggestions. If a person hasn't read the play and wants to audition, that's fine. But I always think it's much better if you've read the script."
A big part of Kastil's job is trying to figure out if the actor can be guided. If Kastil asks the performer to try some different shadings, and the actor remains rigid with preconceived notions, it suggests the performer may not be directable.
If Kastil doesn't know the actor, he also has to guess if the person will be reliable in attending rehearsals and performances.
"I may sometimes call a director the actor's worked with in the past, if I have any doubts. But sometimes I just have to make a (snap) judgment. And sometimes I'm wrong."
Are resumes important?
"I don't look a whole lot on resumes," he explains. "I do think resumes should list specific roles and places where you've performed. But if you're good, I don't care about your resume."
Kastil's been at this for a long time. He holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in theater, did some grad studies at Northwestern University, worked for the city of Chicago mounting children and adult productions, and, for about six years, was the artistic director of Los Angeles' Actors' Alley.
"It was the kind of job where I had to do everything."
That may be one of the reasons Kastil seems to have an intuitive understanding of how the audition process should work.
"I know people are usually nervous. I like to think I'm able to get them to relax and (give) their best."
(More information about "Bedroom Farce" auditions can be found at lvlt.org.)
Anthony Del Valle can be reached at DelValle@aol.com. You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas NV 89125.