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Unless you're involved in one of the few fully professional theatre companies in town (you can count them on two fingers), it ain't often that paying acting gigs appear in these parts — let alone gigs that pay well enough to live on. But that's exactly what's on the table at Theatre 99, where open auditions next Thursday (March 30, 8 p.m.) will yield an acting company for a new project commissioned from Theatre 99 by Boone Hall Plantation. The new company will perform original short plays at the plantation several days a week, then interact with audiences while in character, for a total of about four and a half hours of work each day. The pay? A respectable $90 per person per day. If you've been waiting tables and dreaming of becoming an actor, it's time to quit your night job. Though if you have a distaste for period pieces or the antebellum South, this one's definitely not for you.

Theatre 99 co-owner Greg Tavares says Boone Hall approached him several weeks ago about creating a series of three original historical plays to be performed for visitors to the East Cooper plantation during daytime tours. Although he and fellow Have Nots! Timmy Finch and Brandy Sullivan are collaborating on the scripts, he says it's not officially a Theatre 99 project, and members of the acting company (nameless for the moment) will operate as independent contractors — subcontracting, in essence, for the theatre company.

Tavares say they're currently writing scripts for three 20-minute plays, which will be performed on the steps of the Boone Hall house, followed by 20 minutes of character interaction with the audience. They're most interested in experienced actors, but a fully professional film or theatre background isn't necessary.

"We're looking to cast as big a net as possible for actors," he says. "The age range we're looking for is 18-40, but if we get a ton of older people auditioning, the pieces are still being created, so we can tweak the final script to accommodate the actors. Acting experience is more important than improv experience," he adds. "We're looking for people with at least some community theatre experience."

After next Thursday's auditions, the goal is to have production begin by early May for a spring and early summer run. And if the project is successful, it may continue indefinitely.

"Right now it's just for six weeks, but if [Boone Hall] likes it and it goes well, they'll want it to keep going through the fall and maybe longer," Tavares says. "I think it'll be a great opportunity for someone who wants to explore becoming a professional actor."

For more info on auditions, call 853-6687 or e-mail —Patrick Sharbaugh

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