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Nervous, peeping or pushy - what kind of stage parent are you?

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With the summer holidays approaching, you may well be considering taking your children to acting classes, drama summer school, or even auditions for professional shows. If so, children's casting director Jo Hawes has written just the book for you.

Children in Theatre gives advice and information about everything from auditions to rehearsals to performances, as well as giving some of the author’s experiences and reflections from children and their parents.

Hawes became a children’s casting director 17 years ago, and has since worked on over 75 productions – mainly musicals in the West End and on tour - including: Les Miserables, Mary Poppins, Oliver!, Shrek, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and The Sound of Music. She also has experience as a stage manager and chaperone. In 2010, Hawes began a series of workshops, Masterclasses in the Art of Auditioning.

Children in Theatre is published by Oberon Books. The following is an extract from chapter 10, titled The Waiting Room.

The place where parents wait for their offspring while they are auditioning is invariably inhabited by certain types of parents who are usually, but not always, mothers:

1. The Interrogator
This parent will fire questions at the person in charge of running the auditions who may not know much anyway! She will also interrogate her child after the audition about every minute detail including who was making the decisions which the child will probably not remember. Bombarding children with questions after an audition is a waste of time because they are unlikely to have any idea of how they did and are probably starving!

2. The Peeping Parent
Parents are excluded from auditions for very good reasons. This parent, despite of the best efforts of people like myself to block up any windows or doors, will manage to find a chink through which to watch their child auditioning. On a number of occasions I have moved parents away from doors so many times that in complete exasperation I will eventually explode through the door almost knocking them flying in the process! I do not allow parents to watch auditions, because I never want to hear a parent say to their child that they could have done better – with all due respect to parents they do not know what the directors are looking for.

3. The Nervous Parent
This parent will bite their nails down to the quick, pace up and down and jump a mile in the air every time the door to the waiting room opens.

4. The Show Off
This parent will tell anyone who wants to listen (or even if they don’t!) the various achievements of their child and try to intimidate the other parents into the bargain. Actually the only job that is important is this one.

5. The Gossip
This parent will delight in making up anything they don’t know and hand out loads of incorrect information. Inexperienced parents will take anything said as the truth.

6. The Complainer
This parent will complain about the amount of time they have been waiting for their child to be seen, about the amount of time their child has been in the audition room, the lack of information, anything that they can think of. They do not realise that they would be doing their child and everyone else a big favour if they just sat down quietly with the newspaper and a coffee.

7. The Wanderer
This parent will disappear when their child is auditioning and occasionally not return until well after their child has finished her audition, if at all. Auditions can be very tedious and nerve-wracking for parents with a lot of waiting around but if asked to wait they must to so for their child’s safety and well-being. It is awful for a child if they have worked hard over a period of time and then they are not asked to stay in the room for further auditioning. They are taken back to the waiting area wanting to have a good sob and their parent has disappeared.

8. The Pushy Parent
This parent will have bribed their child into attending the audition and will be shocked when they come out crying and saying that they do not want to be there. She will probably try to get the child to go into the room again whether they want to or not and will eventually take them home and give them a good telling off.

9. The Inexperienced Parent
This parent will sit quietly, completely intimidated by everything and listen to anything that is being said and believe it.

10. The Absentee Parent
This parent will send their child to the audition by themselves without putting in an appearance at all. Although there is no legislation to cover auditions this does cause problems for us because children should not go home unaccompanied.

11. The Sensible Parent
This parent will sit quietly and know that this is not the only audition in the world and that their child has just as much chance of getting the role as any other. If the child is not successful this parent will reassure and tell them that there will always be another audition and not to worry.

In short, the waiting room is a difficult place to be! Take a newspaper, a drink and settle in for what might be a long day.


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