Thoughts About Harold Auditions

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Thoughts About Harold Auditions

Postby joewengert » Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:46 pm

Dear UCB-LA Students,

One thing I’ve tried to change about the Training Center over the past year is to make it a bit more transparent. Berg and Sitko were added as “Student Advocates” to answer questions and address concerns, I hold office hours, stuff like that. (Well, I guess mostly just those two things.)

These changes happened because UCB is so big now that I realize it can come off as mysterious or cold to our students. I feel like this is especially true after Harold Auditions.

I wanted to take a moment as the Academic Supervisor to post and say that I thought I saw a lot of GREAT work during this year’s auditions. In fact, every year I sit in on the auditions I feel like I see better work. This year I walked away from the auditions feeling very proud of UCB students and teachers.

The problem is that the number of available performance slots is not growing in proportion with our very talented student body. I saw lots and lots of people do exactly what they are being taught in class who did not even get a callback for a Harold Team.

So I guess the point of this post is: I hope that everyone realizes that not making a Harold Team or not getting a callback does not mean you are a bad improviser!

Going into this year I knew that we were seeing 500+ people for 8-16 slots. If you do the math, it's less than 5% of people getting on teams. Given that reality, I know I personally tried to be very picky about people who I vouched for in terms of getting a callback. If we gave a callback to everyone who did a decent scene or correctly applied our methods we'd probably still be watching callback Harolds right now.

It is impossible for me to say what everyone else in the room was looking for. Beyond a solid understanding of Long Form based on a few short scenes performed in an environment that is probably not optimal for good improv, I was looking for people who also really made me laugh or people who seemed to have already developed a unique or specific voice beyond being able to do solid improv.

Harold auditions are a very very difficult environment to stand out in. My advice to everyone serious about Harold Teams is to work on developing your voice. (Please realize: this is not the "key" to getting on a Harold Team. The decisions are made by a group of people, of whom I am only one person.)

More importantly: If you really love improv, don’t make a Harold Team your only goal. If you really love improv, keep doing improv. Right now improvisers have so many amazing opportunities to perform and work on their craft. And those opportunities are growing by the minute.

Good work, UCB students. You make up a community that I am extremely thankful for.

And if you can remember, next year please try to do more scenes about people with big ol’ butts.

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