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Grant Kretchik | PACE UNIVERSITY

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"Backstage" featured Pace University’s School of Performing Arts associate director Grant Kretchik in "Do You ACTUALLY Have What it Takes to Study Acting in College?"

02/27/2019

"Backstage" featured Pace University’s School of Performing Arts associate director Grant Kretchik in "Do You ACTUALLY Have What it Takes to Study Acting in College?"

Sure, you’re talented. But are you “I’m going to study this in school and devote my professional life to it” talented? There is a fine but crucial line to consider when taking that next step—or not. To help you define it, industry and Backstage Experts weigh in on the questions you must ask yourself.

Can you handle the business side of things?
“Handle the business part yourself. Sign in, give your paperwork, and ask pertinent questions. Parents and coaches are excited for you but avoid letting them dominate a Q&A. It’s important that we interact with you and understand you are mature, thoughtful, and engaged enough to ask your own questions.” —Grant Kretchik, associate director of Pace University’s School of Performing Arts, and JV Mercanti, head of acting for the musical theater program at Pace University’s School of the Arts

Can you get through the actual audition process?
“The audition process can be revealing and a good opportunity not to quit, but to evaluate what you need to follow this path. You can love acting while finding other ways to keep it in your life. If you struggle to get into a program, explore other ways to satisfy your love for it. You can be an actor anywhere. Still, my favorite place to act is at the Ritz Company Playhouse in Hawley, Pennsylvania, because that’s where I got my start when I didn’t know as much and acted only because I love it. I still fantasize about going back there and acting for the pure joy. All this to say, I turn away talented hopefuls often and maybe even ‘the next Meryl.’ So only you will know if you should continue. Do not let any of us take your dreams away. Fight for what you love and go towards it. Remember, if there is doubt in your mind, it’s also really worth examining.” —Grant Ketchik, associate director of Pace University’s School of Performing Arts, head of its BFA acting program, and Backstage Expert

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"Backstage" featured Pace University's Performing Arts Grant Kretchik and JV Mercanti in "Why You Should Audition for Acting School"

09/12/2018

"Backstage" featured Pace University's Performing Arts Grant Kretchik and JV Mercanti in "Why You Should Audition for Acting School"

September means going back to school, and it might have you saying, “This time next year, will I be enrolled at an acting college?” To audition for a higher performance institution, you don’t need to have it all figured out. In fact, sometimes the audition process itself will be the exact clarity you need to decide whether to further your creative pursuits. But no matter what, you shouldn’t let the audition itself deter you from figuring it out. Below, industry and Backstage Experts answer everything you need to know about auditioning for acting school.

Auditions can tip the scales in the right direction.  
“The audition process can be revealing and a good opportunity not to quit, but to evaluate what you need to follow this path. You can love acting while finding other ways to keep it in your life. If you struggle to get into a program, explore other ways to satisfy your love for it. You can be an actor anywhere. Still, my favorite place to act is at the Ritz Company Playhouse in Hawley, Pennsylvania, because that’s where I got my start when I didn’t know as much and acted only because I love it. I still fantasize about going back there and acting for the pure joy. All this to say, I turn away talented hopefuls often and maybe even ‘the next Meryl.’ So only you will know if you should continue. Do not let any of us take your dreams away. Fight for what you love and go towards it. Remember, if there is doubt in your mind, it’s also really worth examining.” —Grant Ketchik, associate director of Pace University’s School of Performing Arts, head of its BFA acting program, and Backstage Expert

Nerves are one thing; underpreparedness is another.
“Many college programs will find a way to calm you down before your audition by offering a group warmup or talking to you and getting to know you before you start your audition material. They understand that being nervous is part of the process. If you’re nervous because you haven’t thoroughly prepared the audition material, chose it at the last minute, or didn’t read the play the monologues have come from, they will be less forgiving. The more prepared you are, the more you will be able to trust yourself, take a deep breath before you walk into the audition room, and keep your cool.” —Tom Morin, professional actor, NYC-based acting coach, and Backstage Expert

Hate monologues? You’re not alone.
“Monologues are horrible animals. We all hate doing them, we all hate looking for them, listening to them—but they’re a convenient way to get to know another person who wants to be an actor. We can see if you have talent, any sense of instincts, a creative imagination, if you’re able to access emotion freely—and I don’t mean a frenzy of emotion, but allowing yourself to come from a real place. Anything apart from that is distracting.” —Lucien Douglas, faculty member at University of Texas at Austin

Take the reins.
“Handle the business part yourself. Sign in, give your paperwork, and ask pertinent questions. Parents and coaches are excited for you but avoid letting them dominate a Q&A. It’s important that we interact with you and understand you are mature, thoughtful, and engaged enough to ask your own questions.” —Grant Kretchik, associate director of Pace University’s School of Performing Arts, and JV Mercanti, head of acting for the musical theater program at Pace University’s School of the Arts.

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"Backstage" featured Professors Grant Kretchik and JV Mercanti in "What You Need to Know About Auditioning for College"

05/29/2018

"Backstage" featured Professors Grant Kretchik and JV Mercanti in "What You Need to Know About Auditioning for College"

If college acting programs are meant to prepare you for the real world of professional acting, then it only makes sense that they, too, require an audition process. And as any working actor will tell you, it’s best to accept the auditioning-as-way-of-life mentality sooner rather than later. Below, industry and Backstage Experts share their most useful audition tips as they pertain specifically to college.

Your monologue interpretation will be evaluated.
“I would be lying if I said there are not monologues that make me roll my eyes. There are also monologues that are difficult for me because I’ve been in, directed, or love the play—but that does not mean you should not do them. Honestly? Very often, I’m not only listening to the words, but also trying to deeply evaluate how aware you are of what you are doing with the material.” —Grant Kretchik, associate director of Pace University’s School of Performing Arts and Backstage Expert

The interview is as important as the audition.
“Schools can tell a lot about you from the interview. Work on your interview skills, be yourself and be ready to give thoughtful answers to questions asked. Research the school so you can speak about why you chose their program. Whether it’s the faculty, alumni, philosophy, or networking opportunities, have specifics.” —Denise Simon, New York-based acting coach and Backstage Expert

Do your very best to relax.
“[Students] need to relax and not let [nervousness] overwhelm them. Just come in and give us your best you. We’re looking for students to be themselves, show us who they are as performers. They don’t have to be perfect in their singing or acting because that’s why they’re going to school—to get that training!” —Ashley Avola, assistant director of fine and performing arts admission at Marymount Manhattan College

The audition should help answer your questions, too.
“FIRST: Make a list of questions.

  1. What do I want out of an arts training program?

  2. Do I want an urban or suburban campus?

  3. Do I want conservatory or liberal arts training? What’s the difference between the two?

  4. What are the top schools in my field? (i.e. acting, musical theater, playwriting, etc.)

  5. How many students does the program admit?

  6. Who’s teaching within the program?

  7. What industry connections do they have?

  8. Is there a New York showcase? A Los Angeles showcase?

  9. Am I guaranteed a place in the showcase or is it by admission?

  10. Does the program support internships, independent studies, etc.?

  11. Are there performance opportunities?

  12. When am I allowed to audition?

  13. Does the program have a “must-cast” policy or could I go through four years not guaranteed an opportunity?

  14. What theaters are around the school? Do I have the ability to see other shows while there?

  15. And any other question you may have.

“You don’t have to provide definitive answers to the more subjective questions but these are things you really should consider.” —Grant Kretchik and JV Mercanti, head of acting for the musical theater program at Pace University’s School of the Arts and Backstage Expert

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