– by Fiona Davies
In March, ITI went on a 5-state audition tour across Australia in a bid to find new cast for Faulty Towers The Dining Experience and Confetti & Chaos. Last week nine of those successful (and enthusiastic) Australian actors headed to Melbourne for an intensive audition workshop. Directing and coaching them throughout this process was ITI’s artistic director, Alison Pollard-Mansergh. Accompanying her were the company’s original Manuel, Andy Foreman, plus four brilliant UK performers: Donna Gray, Ben Hood, Katie Grace Cooper and Dan Wood.
Potential Sybils, Manuels and Basils all worked with experienced Faulty performers, while other newcomers focused on classic wedding speeches of bridezillas and best-men from Confetti & Chaos (formerly titled The Wedding Reception). Imagine four high-heeled Sybils tottering around screaming “Ba-sil” and three goose-stepping Basils tripping over newly-weds with bumbling waiters!
Ali explains more about the process and experience of the new performers starting out with the company:
“All the performers spend time developing and extending their improvisational skills in these workshops. We like to get them all in the space and encourage them to play. They work hard on spontaneous and pre-prepared scenes – both in and out of character – to explore the characters more deeply. With the guidance and direction of seasoned actors, they really do achieve great things.”
She also notes how important it is to introduce the performers to company culture and to encourage their input and creativity, even in these early stages: “Of course some time has been spent encouraging input from the new performers! We want them to understand our collaborative process and ethos. It’s important that they feel they can make new suggestions and work with us to devise ideas, especially when it comes to new scenes and new shows in the company!”
Dan Wood (front) and Rob Langston work with Richard Holborn on the iconic Basil goose step
This collaborative philosophy is also the reason actors from both Australia and the UK have come together to help train and guide the new recruits. Faulty Towers the Dining Experience has maintained quality and consistency for over 20 years. Making sure that new performers absorb the knowledge and expertise from some of the most experienced actors within the company ensures this legacy continues forward. This also helps ensure that when ITI is ready to introduce new shows like Pamela’s Palace to Australian audiences we have the most proficient and well trained actors available.
The process of learning continues on for these new-comers – as it does for all performers. Over the next few weeks they will be attending shows and continuing meet-ups and trainings with ITI’s established performers. Then, as they go out to work in the field, they will still be taking notes and having check-ins with Ali for months to come. It’s an extensive and detailed process becoming iconic characters – but the wait is worth it, and we’ll give you full details of our successful new cast members soon!
In the meantime, very many thanks to all who took part and congratulations to our newest company members: Amy Currie – Brisbane (Sybil); Rebecca Fortuna – Melbourne (Sybil); Nicholas Richard – Sydney (Manuel).