The Audition 

OUP The Audition Milad Norouzi photo by Darren GillUntil fairly recently, news outlets often told us something of Australian border controls. Showing a spark of novelty, The Audition promised to compare this type of exclusion with how some actors struggle for the chance to tell their stories.

The path to The Audition began with insights from the experiences of Milad Norouzi and Sahra Davoudi, two asylum seekers who became immigrants. The pair are amongst a collection of seven emerging and established writers who contributed scenes to the work.

It may be that this diversity of voices and scenes are trying to address too much in the 70-minute runtime. This comes at a cost to the depth of stories and insights presented.

At times, a poetic approach to describing an asylum seeker’s confinement seemed to underplay the almost unbelievable reality of past government policies, and the harm they caused.

Another perplexing scene had would-be visa applicants screened by a government department. The lack of backstory here meant that a judgement landed without much weight (Certainly not compared to events in, say, the Biloela Family story). Notably, another scene established the consequences of deportation from Australia much more clearly.

The work was often more convincing when embracing the novel territory it promised. Sure, a director may have a vision for some character. But when an aspiring actor is from a ravaged country and understands her character’s background, it was easy to understand the restrained frustration of having to take notes from someone lacking this history.

Other scenes featuring traditional music by Vahideh Eisaei and Arman Habibi contributed useful variations to the work’s tempo. Also, the rhythms and flourishes supplied a cultural background that helped to flesh-out some characters.

From the way it was framed, it’s fair to ask how much The Audition prompted us to new thinking. In the time after David Marr’s Panic (2013) and “Operation Sovereign Borders” – I suspect that Australians are (awkwardly) well aware of the imprisonment part of asylum seeker stories.

We are likely far less informed about other aspects, such as what happens once they secure a visa and remain. A work like this might lead to such stories getting the stage time they deserve.

The Audition 
La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond Street, Carlton
Performance: Thursday 23 May 2024
Season continues to 2 June 2024

The Audition will also be presented at Bunjil Place (Narre Warren) on 6 June and the Bowery Theatre (St Albans) on 21 June 2024. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Outer Urban Projects presents The Audition – photo by Darren Gill

Review: Jason Whyte