Auditions for Importance of Being Earnest, Q & A with Director Carrie Ann Quinn

Bill Doncaster | August 16, 2017
Auditions for Importance of Being Earnest, Q & A with Director Carrie Ann Quinn

College is the time to try new things... Each audition is an experience, a chance to perform

The audition dates for this fall’s two Theatre Arts Productions are on the calendar. First up, The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde’s classic comedy, on September 12 and 13 for shows running November 2 through 10.

Director Carrie Ann Quinn stresses that this is truly an “open call” audition – all majors and levels of experience are open, and it’s not uncommon newbies to the theater world land big roles. Last fall, in fact, English Major Marquies Perez landed the title role in Bat Boy: The Musical in his first audition of any kind, and went on to an alternate nomination in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

“College is the time to try new things, and the audition is where it all begins,” said Quinn. “Each audition is an experience, a chance to perform. Casting decisions are always difficult, and there are more actors than roles, but it’s always a thrill for us to see someone who has dreamed of being on stage summon up the courage to try.”

The Importance of Being Earnest is takes on the pretense of ‘proper’ society, and I’m always enamored of Oscar Wilde’s subtitle, ‘A Trivial Comedy for Serious People,’” said Quinn. “We’re envisioning rich and glamorous costumes and set, all to poke fun and tear away the masks of morality in the upper class behaving badly. For actors and audiences, it is brilliant comedy touching on themes just as relevant today as when Wilde wrote it over a 100 years ago.”

For those auditioning, especially those auditioning for the first time, Quinn offers a brief Q & A of common questions. All are welcome to the Theatre Arts Orientation on August 31, 11 a.m., which will include an auditioning workshop specific to this fall's productions. If you don’t see your question here, feel free to email

Where and When are Auditions?

September 12 and 13 at 6 to 9 p.m. at the University Hall Theatre. Just show up on either of those two dates, you’ll enter your name on a list and you’ll be called in to audition in order. Following auditions, some actors will be invited to “callbacks” on September 14 for final casting decisions. If you’re not cast, we’d love to talk to you about working behind the scenes.

How should I prepare, do I need a monologue memorized?

Yes, you need to memorize a monologue. It’s best if it’s short and sweet, and fully memorized, rather than long and not memorized. Part of being an actor is memorizing lines, so it’s a basic “job skill” to be in the cast. We ask monologues be under two minutes long, comedic, and written between 1650 and 1950.

One helpful step may be coming to the Theatre Arts Orientation on August 31.  It’s mandatory for Theatre Arts majors, but open to all, and at 12:30 there will be a session on auditioning with myself and Michael Fennimore. Right after that, there’s a “student only” Q & A session with upperclassmen, which is a great place for questions.

Do I have to do Shakespeare?

No, in fact, please don’t.  For The Importance of Being Earnest, something written around the same time (1890-1910) is best. We made the requirement something from a 300-year period (1650-1950) to give you lots to chose from, and Shakespeare’s just a little before that. Do something you like, something fun. You have three centuries to choose from.

If cast, do I have to go to all the rehearsals?

Yes. We will work with some conflicts, but you need to know them and list them when you sign up at auditions. If cast, we’ll note your conflicts, but after that no more changes are allowed. It’s an essential part of the process that cast members work closely with each other, and one person’s absence from a rehearsal impacts everyone.

Is the cast open to all ethnicities?

The Importance of Being Earnest, and all productions at UMass Boston, is open to people of all backgrounds. This play probably has too much history with all-white casts, but there were people of color in Wilde’s 1899, just as there are on this campus in 2017, and we’ll cast those who can act his words with intelligence, humor, and the work ethic to make this the best show it can be.

Tags: acting , auditions , carrie ann quinn , importance of being earnest , open audition , oscar wilde , performing arts , performing arts department , theater arts , theater design

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