Lots of folks have asked me what I'll be looking for in auditions for Fiasco. I thought I'd give a run-down of what I think our cast members will have to be good at during the run of this show. I have no idea, just yet, what we'll *do* in auditions to look for these qualities, nor do I know how this mental list might change during the audition process. This is just a snapshot of what I'm looking for now.
And it is a very lengthy snapshot, with a lot of things that I'm looking for. Really only the first two items below are absolutes. If the whole list looks daunting, take heart -- nobody can do *all* of those things well, and casting will be a matter of piecing together a group of performers with complementary strengths.
Fiasco is a show about stupid, bad people who make stupid, bad decisions, and who lose cataclysmically because of that. That means I'm looking for players who can gleefully lose a scene, and who can play characters who damn well *deserve* to lose. If your only gear, as a performer, is "I know what's going on and I'm in control"; if you have to 'win' in all of your scenes; if you have to play characters that the audience respects and/or likes -- all of these are problems. For Fiasco, you'll need to demonstrate that you can do the opposite of that, instead.
Players will need to be able to follow what's going on in a show. I'm not saying you need to be able to tie together story threads, or "aim" for some kind of elegant ending. You just have to be able to pay attention to what's happened so far and more-or-less keep it in your head. Now, there are multiple tiers to "knowing what's going on":
1. "I know that <x> is playing Mike."
2. "... and I know Mike is casing this bank for a heist."
3. "... and I know that *my character doesn't know that*."
I'm hoping to get lots of improvisors who can handle level three. I'm hoping to avoid improvisors on the "Uh... wait, who's 'Mike'?" end of the scale.
Okay, those were the two biggies.
The rest of these are more sophisticated traits that we'll be working on through the rehearsal process. At the audition stage, most of them are just nice-to-haves. If you can pull these off already, great! -- but realistically, I'm looking for people who show potential for settling into these skills over a couple months' rehearsal.
I want players who can switch-hit status. If you can only play high status, or only play low status, that could be a problem, because the source material uses status in a very nuanced and sophisticated way. The films are full of high-status characters whose status is blustery and fragile (Mr. Jeffrey Lebowski or Pappy O'Daniel) and low-status characters who show signs of steely resolve (Lester Nygaard, from the Fargo TV series). Ideally, we'll have players who can perform that kind of ambivalence.
Characters in Fiasco will have stylized behavior, but genuine emotions. Think of Hi discovering, miserably, that he and Ed can't have children. Or think of Norville Barnes filled with genuine wonder at his first day at Hudsucker Industries. Now, Fiasco won't go *that* far out on the 'mannered' limb, but we still want players who can pull off that dichotomy -- people who can wield the sort of honest, vulnerable emotional weight you might see in Austin Secrets, but filter it through these heightened characters.
Romance and intimacy will be part of this show, and players need to be okay with that. The original game claims to occupy "the intersection of greed, fear, and lust," and this show will follow suit on all three. NOTE: this doesn't mean "I need you to be comfortable with doing <x> or <y> onstage." It does mean I need you to: know what your boundaries are; capably express those to your fellow players; play *within* those boundaries without hesitation; and, most importantly, respect the boundaries of your fellow players. (Creeping out your castmates is right out.)
Of course, all the other usual mainstage guidelines hold here. Enthusiasm for the source material is a plus, but it's not the end of the world if all of this is new to you: many performers have dived into research and come up with beautiful genre work. A reputation for showing up on time and doing all your homework counts in your favor, as will being able to take direction, project, and all the usual actor-y things.
Whew. And that's the list. But that giant list of traits is *my* problem, not yours. Your only job, should you choose to accept it, is show up on the 21st and have fun improvising with your very talented colleagues -- and if you do that, I'm sure you'll wind up giving this audition your best shot.