Most of my actors have been from The Theatre Artists Workshop of Westport.
Occasionally, I have been able to bring in actors from outside the group, when a role was too hard to fill from within. For example, Daniel Randazzo, a young man who played Young Will and Hamnet in "Shakespeare in the Dark" at The National Arts Club: The Theatre Artists Workshop does not yet have any members who are still children. And, actually, I have toyed with the idea of having this role filled by a small young woman, for practical reasons. Having a child in a cast is a responsibility. In this case, Daniel's father Peter is a fine actor and fit perfectly into the role of Henry Condell; so, although Peter is not a member of The Theatre Artists Workshop, his presence made it possible for us to cast Daniel with confidence.
Previously, while the play was being developed at the Workshop here in Ct., an early version of it was presented at The Fairfield Museum, as part of its series celebrating theater in Fairfield County. Young Will/Hamnet was played by an extremely gifted young actor named Bartek Szymanski. When he auditioned for the role, Bartek was 15 but looked younger. He had a lovely stage presence and read with great ease and charm. Mark Graham and I agreed at that time that he would make a fine Hamnet (age 11). Six months later, when we needed his services again, he appeared, now six feet tall. He looked twenty. And that is what happens with child actors. They grow up, sometimes suddenly!
My son, as a teenager, auditioned for a role in Shakespeare on the Sound's "Henry V." There is young man in the play, probably a teenager, who follows Falstaff and his men off to war as their servant. And, in the course of the play, the poor boy is killed by the French. This is presented as Henry's reason for ordering the killing of all the French captives. (This was not the true historical reason, but it was a more sympathetic one.) My son was a tall, good-looking teenager back then, with a strong voice, a good stage presence, a real gift of relaxation on the stage, and lots of local experience. He read very well. Yes, I know I'm his mother, but I also know a good actor when I hear one. In any case, he didn't get the role. Who did: a charming little boy who had an English accent. The character is supposed to be killed off-stage, and we never see his body, we only hear Henry express his outrage at the boy's death. In this production, the actor playing Henry V walked onstage with an agonized look on his face, carrying the body of the dead boy and holding him out for the audience to see. My son and I were sitting next to each other in the audience, and he nudged me and whispered, "Mom, I couldn't have played the kid. I'm taller than Henry V!"
In other blog posts, I'll return to the subject of actors, because I want to discuss the ways that actors can influence the way we see the characters we've written, both in performance and in their insights into their characters (Katie Sparer, for example, on the character of Anne Hathaway Shakespeare) and, also how a different cast can test the soundness of a play ( the cast of "Shakespeare in the Dark/Hamlet's Shakespeare/Shakespeare Rising" in Utah). Yes, it took me a while to get the title right--hence this parade of titles for New York, Utah, and then the final title. I hope it's final. "Shakespeare Rising" describes the action of the first play of the trilogy best, I think. Also, Mark Graham will shoot me if I change the title one more time!