For actors

See also Why Join Us?

Opportunities for Actors to Perform

Circle Readings – open to all.

Semi-Staged Performances

Commissioned Performances for writers – are cast to suit the play as far as possible, for the benefit of the writer rather than the actor members.

Circle Readings

You do not have to be a member to take part in our circle readings. In fact this is the best way to try us out, meet us and see what we are about. Everyone is welcome to read and there is no prior allocation of parts. The session leader will allocate and reallocate roles during the evening so that everybody gets a chance to read, and you may find yourself playing characters well outside your normal casting range.
If you want to take part in our semi-staged performances and you're new to us, this is the easiest way to show us what you can do.

How We Cast Semi-Staged Performances

There are several conflicting criteria when considering who to cast:
We perform to an audience who pay (admittedly not a fortune) to come, so the standard of acting and reading should be as high as possible. These two skills do not always coincide; there are many accomplished actors who are not good readers.
The actors should match the specifications of the characters as far as possible, certainly at least in terms of gender and relative age.

We want all our actor members to have a chance of performing, but we also want to reward members who turn up as audience to support their colleagues on the occasions they haven't been cast.In order to distribute parts fairly among members, we maintain an informal queueing system:

  • A member who has just had a principal part will go to the back of the queue.
  • A member who has just had a middling part will go backwards in the queue.
  • A member who performs a small part will be given credit for public service and go up the queue.
  • Members who attend as audience members go up the queue; we don't want people to only turn up when they are performing.
  • Members who don't keep to the guidelines may find themselves slipping down the queue.

You are more likely to be cast if you give us some details in your membership profile, and have participated in some circle readings; plays often make the journey from circle reading to semi-staged performance and have been known to take actors with them.

Contacting You

We will ask you to take part in a performance by ringing you, so make sure we have your current number. If we can't speak to you directly, we will leave a message asking your availability or offering you a part. Unless the message explicitly says otherwise, the offer of a part is yours for 24 hours. This gives you a reasonable opportunity to respond, while not creating a bottleneck in the casting process if you don't get back. Of course, if you get back to us after 24 hours we might not have contacted someone else, but you never know...

The normal arrangement is to rehearse on the Sunday afternoon before the performance, between 12.00 and 6.00 (lunch provided). You are also expected to arrive early on the day of performance (at least an hour before) for final rehearsal.

When you have accepted a part, you'll be provided with a script. To keep costs down, you will be usually sent a script by email, and receive a printed copy at the rehearsal. If you want to print the script yourself before the rehearsal, let us know in good time and we'll pay you what it would have cost to print it ourselves. Please bring marker pens, pencil etc. to the rehearsal. We endeavour to format the scripts for ease of reading: large print, no page turns in the middle of a speech etc.

If you have to pull out, let us know immediately. We will endeavour to find a replacement, but if there is little time you may be expected to help. If you have been sent a printed script, the onus is on you to get it to the replacement actor.

Guide Lines for Actors

For information on how to be eligible for casting please contact us
See information on the venues currently used for performance and rehearsal please click here.
Normally our performances are preceded with just one rehearsal, on the previous Sunday between 12 and 6. Occasionally this may be varied and, again occasionally, a director may request more than one rehearsal.

All this information will be told to the actor prior to their accepting the role and the acceptance is of all relevant dates and times.

  • It is the actors responsibility to familiarise themselves with the script prior to the rehearsal except where such a script is unavailable to them.
  • As the rehearsal time is very short all actors are reminded to be punctual.
  • Food will be provided for the cast on rehearsal days and any dietary restrictions should be advised to the director prior to the rehearsal. Drinks (tea, coffee, water, soft drinks and alcohol) can be purchased at the rehearsal venues.
  • On performance nights the director may request an additional short rehearsal from 6 to 7.
  • Our productions are not fully staged but actors should dress appropriately for the parts they are to play.
  • Scripts should be carried and used during all performances.
'It is frequently said that theatres today are minimising their repertoire, for fear that audiences will not come to see anything they do not already know. Happily, NLA goes in the other direction.'
Helen Cashin, actor and NLA member

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