2010 Thespian Festival – Day Five

Welcome Thespians! Day Five of the Thespian Festival in Lincoln.

It’s our fifth day at the 2010 International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska. Today we talked with our neighbour – Michael Yawney from Florida International University.

In this video, Michael shares his insights after watching over three hundred auditions this week. What makes people stand out? What earns them a callback?


It’s the Thespian Festival. Today is day four or five however you are counting it. One of the awesome things that happen at the Thespian Festival is that there are dozens of colleges and universities here and they have mass auditions for the kids and we just happened to be next to Michael Yawney from Florida International University, the whole time here and got to hear a lot about his program. So, Michael tell us about Florida International University’s theatre program.

Well, Florida International University’s program is really dedicated to nurturing what’s unique and individual about each of our students. We really try to develop their own individual artistic voices.

And you participated in the auditions here.

I did.

And how many people did you see?

It’s so many. I think it was at least 300.

So, 300 monologues, songs…

Monologues, songs, designs and so much so that… It gets very hard to stay fresh with it. But we all really do our best.

And so what each school does, when they watch, you sit as a group and watch.

We sit as a group and watch everyone.

And then each school individually decides to call students back for further discussions. So, what was it that made the kids that you called back stand out?

Well, the ones who stand out and really make you perk up, it’s not always what you think it is. For example a lot students think that a flashy staging is going to get our attention, we’re really looking… we want to find about you. And the flashy staging tells us that you have a really good drama coach, it doesn’t tell us about you. A lot of students give us a very long resume. That tells us that you went to a school that does lots of shows, it doesn’t tell us about you. What tells us about you is first of all what monologue you pick, what song you pick. It tells us what you like. Second of all, what really makes a student stand out is that we can tell what they thought about the monologue, who they are talking to and why they’re saying what they are saying. The way you talk to your little sister, when you want her to keep quiet about sneaking out night before is different than the way you talk to your English teacher when you are trying to convince him to change your C to on A. And that different is what really makes a monologue stand out. That I can tell who you are talking to and what you want them to do for you.

So, you were saying earlier that you are looking to develop a, you are looking for a relationship, you’re not just looking for…


You’re bringing a group of people working together.

It’s like matchmaking. The audition is really the first step. You know, it’s like you see someone and you kind of like them but you don’t really know if they are the one for you until you talk to them and sometimes, sometimes even if at first glance you think “Oh, I am not so sure,”? after talking to someone you realize this is the student for our school. It has really nothing to do with how good you are. It has to do, if you are the right one for us. That’s awesome.

Thank you so much for sharing some of your insight. I am sure people are going to get a lot out of it.

About the author

Craig Mason

1 Comment

  • Thanks for the daily videos from the ITS Festival. For those of us with students participating, but stuck at “home” it’s great to hear and see your view of the Festival. They add depth and confirmation to our students’ reports.

    The feedback from the FIU auditioner was especially great. Something to come back to next year.