Okay, I guess it's not ever if you count the Tales of the Arabian Nights when I was twelve, in which I was bestowed the lofty role of Ali Baba's wife.
Fortunately for me this audition only entailed reading excerpts from the play and there were no interview questions whatsoever as to my, hem, experience. Suffice it to say that I will be very happy if I get a small role.
Prior to auditioning for Hamlet, I retrieved a copy of the script/play from our local theater and spent the last couple of weeks immersing myself in the work itself as performed by David Tennant and company. This being my first attempt at drama and Shakespeare, I anticipated being woefully ignorant and clumsy and thought it best to be as prepared as possible.
Needless to say, I was surprised to discover that half of the people auditioning didn't even have the foggiest clue what Hamlet was actually about. They also didn't know how to read Shakespeare and ended up breaking all their sentences in the most awkward places, making their lines entirely incoherent. Granted, I'm sure I didn't sound half as coherent or expressive as I thought I did, but I was still surprised at the excess of lax ignorance.
I know, I know. We're all amateurs here.
But it seems to me that if you audition for a play that will inevitably occupy a very large portion of your time and dedication every week, you ought to at least know what the play is about and whether or not you really want to do it. More importantly, I think it's only appropriate that you have a vague idea of what the story is about simply for the sake of the story itself.
Stories well done communicate the intricacies of human nature. To portray emotions like grief and madness is not something to be taken flippantly. Not to mention you do the architect of a story dishonor when you convey his work blandly and ignorantly and thus fail to captivate your audience with what otherwise would have enamored them if executed correctly.
I am ill-experienced when it comes to drama, but I feel I am somewhat equipped when it comes to stories. Some of my earliest and best exposures to stories come from my father. I particularly remember him reading The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia out loud to my siblings and I when we were children. Whenever I heard my friends' parents read to their children, I would always think, "This story would be more interesting if Papa was reading it."
I'm sure every child is partial toward their parents, but my father really was skilled at telling stories (he still is skilled at telling stories), whether they were his own or someone else's. He made an art of it without knowing. One of our favorite stories for him to read was The Bears on Hemlock Mountain. I always loved hearing it, though I was always so afraid of it because it really sent shivers down my spine when he read...
There are no bears on Hemlock Mountain.
No bears at all.
My love for stories was ignited by my father, but I think it ultimately took root and flourished in the Word of God. The Bible is, in a sense, the ultimate story written by the ultimate author. And we, as bearers of God's image and God's Gospel are ultimately enacting the Word He has written. Jesus is the Word made flesh and we as Christians are little-Christs. Jesus' story is our story.
If we try and approach this world without fully understanding our Author's story from front to back, we will inevitably fumble around like amateur actors trying to recite Shakespeare when we haven't the foggiest idea who Hamlet is.