Lauren Howry '14

Lauren Howry is an Anthropology and Theater double major from Menlo Park, CA. She used her Johnson Opportunity Grant to intern at Telsey + Company, a casting agency for Broadway in New York City.

When I think of New York theatre the first things that come to mind are the glitz, the glamour . . . Broadway! But before the lights go up, before the cameras start rolling, and before all the applause, there are countless rounds of auditions. That is the realm of fantasyland I found myself in this summer while working as an intern for the Plays Department at Telsey + Company Casting in New York, NY. I learned to relish the emails that flooded in daily about projects I worked on; after three months I developed a sense of attachment to the plays I had seen through from beginning to end. As I read new scripts each week, I travelled to all ends of the earth: one day it was a trailer park in Texas, the next I was in South America at the dawn of the New World, then travelling into the virtual reality of online gaming. These worlds came filled with their own cast of characters, bursting with imagery and emotion, just waiting to be brought to life.

After a cramped elevator ride each morning, I stepped through the doors of our offices on the 10th floor of the high rise and was greeted by never-ending rows of binders. What lies within them is the future talent of our generation: headshots and resumes of everyone who has been or could be a prospect for any of Telsey's recent projects. It's unreal.

This place is a madcap adventure land, where negotiation and communication are crucial. I learned that star power alone isn't everything.  The audition process is only complete when people's perspectives align. One person sees their words on a page, and another sees the performance in front of them. Casting directors try to sift through chaotic differences in personalities and suggest compromises that create the "perfection" these creative teams crave when they bring a project to Telsey to cast. It is in such a process that the work becomes rewarding. When someone surprises you with a suggestion that seems to be completely off the wall, but (because they were invested, because they listened carefully to your preferences, and because they have years of observations under their belt) that surprise can then become the missing piece you were looking for to complete your theatrical puzzle.

Although I spent many days organizing materials for actors to read at auditions or calling agents to schedule appointments for the upcoming days, I never once felt my job was meaningless. The orderly part of me lived for these moments. Everything could be listed and alphabetized in its proper place. It was through constant collaboration, and a consistent drive to perform all tasks effectively and efficiently, that more opportunities were presented to me. I truly felt I was a part of something greater than myself. If directors who had rehearsals fast approaching, and were still short the actors they needed to fully produce the play, could sit back and approach each day with levity; if they could continually keep focused on the ultimate goal, their performance; then I could be there to help them, even in the smallest way. After all, so much of theater is ephemeral: the show goes up, goes on, and the curtain falls. Telsey brings art to life, and lets audiences and the creative masterminds behind the entertainment realize their dreams.