Dr. Kim Miller had a pretty good idea of what she wanted in her actors and was hoping to find it in the 16 people who auditioned for a chance to star in "A Doll's House."
Miller, the production's director and an instructor of communication studies at Fort Hays State University, wanted four men, four women and any number of children to fill the roles in Henrik Ibsen's 1879 classic.
"I'm looking for actors who can take the formal style of this play and bring these long, complex sentences to life," she said.
The audition process began with an open call on Feb. 21, in Malloy Hall, room 210, on the FHSU campus. Four men and seven women either acted out a prepared piece or performed a cold read of a piece selected by Miller.
The next day found the call-back list posted on the theatre program's bulletin board. Everyone had been asked to report to Felten/Start Theatre in Malloy that evening.
Five children came Wednesday. Miller worked with them, playing games and practicing lines for about 15 minutes. The children in the play will be on stage about that long, Miller said, and she was looking to see how well the youngest cast members would remain attentive and how clearly they could speak.
After the children left, Miller began working with the older performers, pairing them up to work through scenes portraying the different characters in the play and the depth and personalities of those characters.
For nearly three hours, the actors and actresses adopted different personas, playing each character and working with the other auditioners, giving Miller an opportunity to see how they interacted with one another and decide which combination of thespians would give the most realistic performance.
"It's easy to depict the characters as very one-dimensional," said Miller. "For example, the character Torvald is very complex. He's not just a villain; he's willing to work himself to death for his family."
Those cast will have to be able to show not only emotional depth but also physical changes.
"Dr. Rank is terminally ill, so towards the end of the play, he needs to convey that in his speech pattern and body movements," Miller said. "I'm also looking for two people who look like a married couple with several children. And Nora has to dance around so the actress must have physical stamina and be able to move around without knocking into things on stage."
Miller also had to take into consideration scheduling conflicts.
"It's hard to cast at this point in the semester because people are already committed to lots of other things for school and work," she said.
In the end, Miller had to make some tough decisions.
"I'm casting all the children. I was impressed with all of them and this way it relieves a little bit of the time commitment the families have to make," she said. "There's lots of individual talent here. Now I have to decide how it will best work together."
"A Doll's House" will run April 27-30 in Felten-Start Theatre in Malloy Hall on the FHSU campus. Shows begin at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Tickets are $8 for FHSU students and $10 for non-students.
For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Tara Neitzel, ticket booth manager, at (785) 628-4225 or email@example.com.
A cast listing follows. Cast members are listed by part.
Alicia Giersch, Hays senior
John Simmonds, McDonald sophomore
Stefanie Stevens, Hays junior
Shane Pelzel, Larned sophomore
Adam McElwain, Dodge City junior
Autumn Thomas, Hays sophomore
Krystal Baugher, Greeley senior
Robbie Rogers, Hays resident
Madison Crees, Hays resident
Hannah Norris, Hays resident
Ethan Rohr, Hays resident
Gracie Wasinger, Hays resident
Lexie Wasinger, Hays resident
Assistant Stage Managers
Desi Creek, Marysville sophomore
Harlea Graton, Hays junior
Ellen Hansen, Bazine freshman
Jenn Wilson, Colby junior