Let me first explain my mission here. My mission in life is to create great theatre. Under that mission, my goal is to create a circumstance where, not only is the audience thrilled by the presentation, but the cast, crew and designers are all thrilled to be working with each other on the project. It’s an idealistic goal, but I have done it. And I’m always trying to do it again.
Which is why I am writing today.
This, in turn, will make everyone’s road to that ideal easier.
That said, I must also acknowledge that such an ideal experience is rare. As a matter of fact, some theatre artists never get that “perfect show.” Most veteran theater artists will admit that theatre is a hard life and recommend to young hopefuls that if you can do anything else, do it. Only go into theater if you absolutely can’t wrap your mind around doing anything else.
If you have committed yourself to traveling this road, then you have accepted the fact that there will be many bumps in road. Those bumps are called auditions. You have to get over them to get where you are going. So, it is better to be prepared.
A major step in that preparation is to take auditions as a game. If you look at the casting director as a troll barring your way, you are going to fail. You must look at the casting director as a key-master in a RP game who sometimes give the key and sometimes doesn’t. You can’t take it personally! You must just do your best and look for an opportunity to roll the dice again. If you take it personally, the rejection will wear you down and burn you out.
Auditions are stressful for actors. But of course you already know that. But did you know that auditions are stressful for directors, too? There is an adage among directors that goes: “Ninety percent of the director’s job is in the casting. The other 10% is in making up for the mistakes you made in casting.” Over the years I have found this to be pretty true, especially in live theatre.
A director in film exercises a lot of control with how he shoots and edits the film. In a stage production, the director guides the actors and calls the shots in rehearsal, but when the show opens the actor is in the driver’s seat. The director is no longer in control. This makes directors very nervous. (Did I just let the cat out of the bag?) So, in casting, the director is looking for actors who are talented, fit the parts, easy to work with and can be trusted to carry out the director’s vision. A tall order! It’s important for you to understand this when approaching auditioning. If you do, a lot of what I am going to tell you will make perfect sense.
In the interest of equal time, I’d love to hear from actors about their own “Do’s & Don’t’s” for casting people. (Keep it clean, please.) So, add your comments. In my next installment I will discuss an expert’s system for getting through the stress of auditions.