August 10, 2022

American Theatre highlights Theater Program’s New Approach to Auditions at Princeton

In a recent feature story, American Theatre highlighted the Program in Theater’s new approach to traditional auditions, a process called Try on Theater Days. This new format replaces high-intensity auditions with educational workshops as a means to cast performers and stagehands for the program’s student-driven theater season.

3 students in group reach toward another with outstretched arms

Students participate in the inaugural Try on Theater Day process in September 2021 at the Lewis Arts complex. Photo by Jon Sweeney

As reported in the story, rather than holding traditional auditions to screen applicants, Try On Theater entails student project leaders and professional faculty members coming together to design workshops that allow students to show their skill sets to better place them in roles both in front of and behind the curtain. The first day of the three-day process is a community day, at which all Princeton students are invited to meet the faculty and staff of Princeton’s theater program and to join introductory-level singing, dancing, and acting workshops to get a sense of what it means to perform in a public space. The next two days are designated for students to “try on” specific shows in the upcoming season, with workshops designed to introduce students to each production’s premise. Students meet the project leaders, discuss content warnings, have the opportunity to question each show’s topics and themes, and then get to “try on” different roles, not only in the acting sense but also, for example, stage management, in which prospective students get the opportunity to try calling cues. The purpose is to introduce and teach students to different facets of theater rather than make judgments about what capabilities certain students walk in the door with, and in turn let students decide if theater is something they want to pursue.

This new process aims to level the playing field for students who didn’t have traditional theatrical training prior to attending Princeton. The goal is to transform the student theater culture and attract a more diverse population, as well as to reduce the cliques and the student hierarchies that often result when theater students consistently casting their friends in productions. The article reports that Try On Theater Days, a solution for students who felt like they had missed out on performing opportunities during their college experience, has already seen a large increase in student participation, according to the program.

One of the biggest goals of the Lewis Center of the Arts is not to “teach to the present of American theater; we’re hoping to teach to the future of it.”
— Jane Cox, Director of the Program in Theater

Read the full story by Rachelle Legrand for American Theatre »

American Theatre magazine, a publication of Theatre Communications Group, is the nation’s only general-circulation magazine devoted to theater. Founded in 1984 and published nine times a year, the printed magazine has an estimated readership of 50,000, mostly within America’s wide-ranging network of professional, not-for-profit theaters. is the online home of the magazine.


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Steve Runk
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