Don Quixote update

As we continue to workshop our devised production of Don Quixote, we’ll post some photos from time to time.  Here’s a couple from the first week of October – our process is to break the story down into shorter parts (sometimes a couple of the 125 chapters at a time) and do a quick “bad first draft”, staging it in just a few minutes.  We video the draft, then watch it back and make decisions about what we could do better, or differently, or more interestingly, then get back up, re-stage it, film it and watch it again.  After multiple passes, we end up with a stronger (yet still rough) draft of the scene.  Over the next month, we’ll take these rough scenes and work through them until we put them down in script form, to tighten the action and clean up the dialogue.

Theo and Adrian doing a rough draft of a scene from Don Quixote for the camera (while Mac and Lydia hide)

In a working rehearsal of the devised production of Don Quixote, we never know what we’ll create

Playing with lighting effects and shadows during a working rehearsal for Don Quixote

Stage Combat guest artist Lauren Gunn

Lauren Gunn instructing unarmed stage combat in Seminar, September 2017

Lauren Gunn executes a non-contact stage slap on BFA Musical Theatre major Christy Robeson.

For a Friday Seminar session a few weeks ago, we were treated to a stage combat workshop by MFA candidate Lauren Gunn – who previously served our department as administrative assistant a few years ago.  She is working on her graduate degree in acting at the University of Southern Mississippi, and brought some of her training in unarmed stage combat back to share with our students.  A lot was learned in a short time, but we are looking forward to the opportunity to have Ms. Gunn return for further instruction in the future!

The Glass Menagerie

Belhaven University Theatre Department will present Tennessee Williams’ timeless memory play The Glass Menagerie September 27-30 in Barber Auditorium in the Library building on Belhaven’s main campus.  An extremely complex and emotional play such as this is always a challenge to present, but our brave cast and crew are tackling the play in an intense rehearsal process, where the cast was set only 4 weeks ago.

Our cast is made up of 4 BFA performers – Grace Reeves (junior, Acting) as Amanda, Noelle Balzer (sophomore, Acting) as Laura, Christopher Miller (freshman, Acting) as Tom, and Caleb Henry (sophomore, Musical Theatre) as Jim.

Barber Auditorium is a highly intimate space, which can bring out the best in performance, but presents special challenges for the design team and our director, Dr. Elissa Sartwell.  We are excited about the dramatic potential of presenting a play with such personal power in a space with such immediacy.

Join us next week for The Glass Menagerie!
To reserve seats, contact or call 601-965-7026.

early rehearsal for Don Quixote

One of our productions for this semester is a devised theatre work based on the novel Don Quixote – which will be in production in November.  Devised theatre is a process of creating a play as an ensemble, and the early part of rehearsing is largely about learning to create together, and establishing an environment where we all feel comfortable sharing ideas and allowing each other to respond and expand those ideas.

Here’s a couple of quick photos of our first rehearsal this week – learning Viewpoints and getting to play with some props and lighting effects.  

Department Headshots



This year, as a department, we are taking headshots so our students’ photos for our productions this season have a consistent look to them. For some of our students this is the first time doing headshots this way, so it can certainly be a learning experience.
Hopefully we can share some of the finished product with you as you see this season’s productions!

Thanks to our friend David Sprayberry for taking our photos this year!

LOOK AWAY by Jerome Kilty opens February 12th

Student-directed Look Away will kick off the spring season of shows at Belhaven.  Student blogger, Eric Henderson shares his thoughts on this stirring piece of theatre being produced in our Second Stage space.


‘Everyone on the train seems to be reading my letters. I heard one man refer to me as though I were dead.’

                               -Mary Todd Lincoln, Look Away


It is my pleasure to announce that on Thursday February 12th, 2015 a two-act play based on Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress and confidant, Elizabeth Keckley will kick off our spring semester of shows. This compelling production is based upon the life and letters Mrs. Lincoln wrote to friends and family during President Lincoln’s terms, after his assassination, and during her stay in the Bellevue Hospital for the insane.

The action of the play occurs in that hospital on Mary Todd Lincoln’s last night of residence before her sanity hearing.  A stirring journey toward hope and recovery through avenues of grief, the first show of our spring season is not to be missed. Look Away was first presented at the Playhouse Theatre in New York City on January 7, 1973 with Geraldine Page as Mary Todd Lincoln and Maya Angelou as Elizabeth Keckley.

Belhaven University’s Theatre department prides itself on seeing their students explore their truest potential. With that being said, senior Theatre Production major Anna Bryant directs the show with conviction, enthusiasm, and fervor. Bryant says, “Mary Lincoln and I have the bond of both being Kentucky-born. Her story pulls at the very heartstrings of life. This story has tragedy, love, and friendship intertwined together giving you the woman who stood faithfully by one of the greatest presidents of the United States of America.”

Look Away by Jerome Kilty runs Thursday, February 12th through Saturday, February 14th with performances nightly at 7:30 PM in our Second Stage space located in the Center for the Arts. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens. Admission is free for Belhaven students, faculty, staff and their immediate families. For reservations, call 601-965-7026.


Knowing the business

The culture of this work environment is networking. If you don’t network you will never be a successful actor in LA. It is all about whom you know and how they can help you in the entertainment industry. Some ideas I have is to arrange informational interviews by attending events. The best way to talk to people is to go to major events that are full with people that you can connect with. You are most likely in a laid back environment which opens the door for you to talk to that person. After they are comfortable you can begin to talk about your career. Another way to get information is to go to seminars and talk to people who are working actors. You can ask them how they got started and what your particular steps should be. Attending plays and industry night in Hollywood are beneficial as well. You can talk to professionals in the field one on one and create connections that can lead to you being invited to more exclusive events. It is all about creating business relationships and networking is how this is done.

Why you didn’t get the part

This is from an article written by casting director Amy Jo Berman:


Yes, I’m writing about why you DIDN’T get the part. Yes, even though your audition was amazing and you were totally on your game and you lit up the room with creative acting genius, you still might not get the part. I know, I know…you’re probably thinking, but Amy, you are always so positive. Why are you talking about something negative?

First, it’s not negative to understand why you didn’t get a job because it will free your mind of all that monkey-mind chatter that happens when you find out you didn’t get it. Second, and this is the important part so pay attention, it doesn’t matter. By the end of this article, I hope you understand that.

Since this is one of the most frequently asked questions I receive and the one that hangs you up the most and twists you into knots as an actor and a creative being, let’s get into it.

Based on my years and years of experience as a casting director in film and television, these are some of the reasons you didn’t get the part.

1. You’re too tall.

2. You’re too short.

3. You’re too pretty.

4. You’re not pretty enough.

5. You’re too fat.

6. You’re too thin.

7. You’re too blonde.

8. You’re not blonde enough.

9. You’re too old.

10. You’re too young.

11. You’re too serious.

12. You’re too funny.

13. You look too much like the lead.

14. You don’t look enough like the lead.

15. You’re taller than the lead.

16. You’re shorter than the lead.

17. You remind the producer of his sister, and he hates his sister.

18. You are too ethnic.

19. You are not ethnic enough.

20. You were the first one to read that day.

21. You were the last one to read that day.

22. You’re more like the best friend than the lead.

23. You’re more of a lead than the best friend.

24. You’re too character-y.

25. You’re not character-y enough.

26. You look like the director’s wife and he had a fight with his wife right before he left the house this morning.

Okay, this is a small sample of the some of the reasons you didn’t get the part. Have you heard any of these after one of your non-bookings? Can you tell what the one common thread is among this small sampling of reasons?

None of these are within your control. NONE.

Yes, of course there are many other things that are within your control and we will definitely get into those in a future article. But these are the ones that drive you crazy. Right?

What you must understand is that your only job in an audition is to do your best work. Everything else is not up to you. The role you are reading for is one piece of an entire jigsaw puzzle. It must fit with the rest of the puzzle or the puzzle won’t work. The casting director, producer, and director are fitting pieces of the puzzle together all day long. Your only job is to be the best “piece” you can be. Whether your edges fit in the slot for that piece is not up to you.

Just go to your audition. Do your best and let it go. If you’re good, they will remember you. And the next time you hear one of those things, remember these words, let a knowing smile creep over your face, and go enjoy your day!

Art and Life

In the echoing words of Oscar Wilde “Art can make life”, I concede this truth especially when it comes to the power of theatre. On stage whether metaphorically or literally we, the audience watch life unfurl onstage. we capture moments of pure truth that touch our soul. I believe theatre has the power to change our perspective; it has the power to show us new forms and if we let it has the power to open up our minds.

Advice from a Casting Director/Acting Teacher

10 Things You Wish The Casting Director Had Told You Sooner

By Caroline Liem | Posted Nov. 1, 2012, 4:49 p.m.

10 Things You Wish The Casting Director Had Told You Sooner

Photo Source: Jon Weinberg

Your teachers, mentors, friends, casting directors have trained you, taught you, listened to you, and brought you back over and over again because you’re terrific in the room. But there are always some things you wish they’d told you sooner.

1. “No” does not equal failure. Casting is working at a heightened pace – creating a family, recasting because the male role became female, the location changed for the role due to budget or local hire, executive orders, nepotism – do you get the picture? It’s not about you. Casting directors are not required to give you closure or cushion the blow. So, what will they do? Though you weren’t right for the role, you were so prepared and confident and brought something unique to the character that they added a role just for you. They loved you so much because you were personable and professional that they remember you and bring you in for another show they’re casting and tell their casting/director/producer friends to meet you.

2. Take big risks. You got the appointment because you satisfy the role. But standing out in the room and landing the role, requires more than satisfactory choices. You didn’t play it safe by choosing this career. What’s the rhythm of the dialogue? What’s happening in-between the lines? What is the world you are creating? What do you want from the other person? And make it bold. Again, it’s not about you.

3. Work smart. What’s your goal? What’s trending? How does it fit your brand/casting? Who knows about what you want to do? Where are the gaps artistically and in business and who can help you fill them?

4. Nurture your love of your art outside the business. It matters that you are a fully developed human being. What are the other things you have in your life which bring delight, purpose, challenge and growth? We are all more than our resumes, and that person is the one we want to know about in the room and on set for the next three months. So try something new or revisit some long lost passion and tell us about it when we ask “Tell me a little bit about yourself.”

5. Mom was right! We never hear about struggling doctors or struggling attorneys. Mom begged us to get a business degree or take a class, but most us decided, “I don’t think that way. I am an artist. I’ll never use that degree.” There is a real way to earn money, pursue your dream, and still have the creative life you deserve. Acting is your career. Bartending, teaching pilates and yoga, or dog walking may help create schedule flexibility and supplements to your career, but they are NOT the reason to change or cancel an appointment. Your reps tell us you’re sick. We know better because of social media. If you have your team already – agent, manager, attorney – listen to their guidance. You have chosen them. If it doesn’t work over a realistic period of time, then consider a change. You are the CEO of your corporation and its star.

6. Be like the reed. Ever have a day when you get to your appointment and find out there were notes never received, new sides, and awkward camera set up, and an extended wait time? How can we do our best under such circumstances? Be flexible, and keep it positive. Look, stuff happens every day that’s out of our control, but how it’s handled is what will be remembered.

7. My reader was a zombie. A tough room = A chilly reception. The audition process is already awkward without these additional bumps in the road. Still, it’s your job to create your environment and show us what you’ve carefully prepared. An Academy Award-winning actor once told me she made a game out of it. The goal was to get the reader to look up. It’s still about connection and taking it off of yourself.

8. Yes, your degree counts. It shows steadfast determination. But class is how you keep sharp, develop additional skills, and stay current. Be open to taking selective classes or seminars continually. Training never ends.

9. Tell a friend. Refer people for jobs you can’t work. It always comes back in a positive way.

10. No car = no work. If you’re in L.A., for Pete’s sake, have a working car!

Caroline Liem is a casting director, audition coach and teacher based in Los Angeles. Her highly acclaimed film/TV audition and text analysis classes have been taught throughout the U.S. both privately and at universities. She has cast indie films, studio features and television pilot/series for Disney Studios, Warner Brothers, Sony, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC, WB, and Fox. You can see her latest casting on Nickelodeon’s Parental Discretion with Stefanie Wilder-Taylor. You can find more information on Caroline and classes at www.CarolineLiem.comand like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @CarolineLiem.