Auditioning on Both Sides: A Revue Review

I love theatre. That’s the plain and simple of it. Sure, I haven’t seen a show in ages, nor have I been on stage for a year. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, I always/never say! To that point, theatre is how I grew into the person I am today. And genetics. Theatre didn’t cause me to be the short one of my family. Instead, it allowed me to flourish socially, thrive imaginatively, instill leadership and teamwork qualities, and convincingly lie about the three previous points.

Why would I review auditioning, though? It’s a process that varies from company to company; a fluid process that is based in subjectivity no matter how hard we pretend it doesn’t.

Because I’ll review ANYTHING. Thought that was clear.

Auditioning may be the most integral part of a theatrical performance. Auditions can make or break a show. For those who have never tried out for any sort of performance, imagine this: you’re interviewing for a job, except the competition is in the boss’s office with you. Instead of waiting to see whether or not you were hired on a solo basis, you get to see a list with that douche Shawn listed under the part of “Vice President of Marketing” that you so coveted. Apologies to all non-douche Shawns out there, however few you may be.

As someone who has spent a solid amount of time on both ends of the casting process, I will try to look at this with a completely biased standpoint and little-to-no objectivity. At least I’m honest about that.

A director or producer may choose a production staff based off their collective portfolio of work, but an audition is meant to be the total and ultimate judgment of an actor. Yes, many directors will ask for a resumé of work, but the most experienced actor could phone in his/her tryout and lose the part to a less experienced performer who brings everything to the table on his/her first go.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Favoritism and familiarity creep all too often into the audition process. As an actor, this has both helped and hurt my chances. I was a very hard working performer who functioned well with both staff and cast, but I’ve had poor previous auditions which led directors to view me as less skilled right when I walked into a subsequent tryout. First impressions definitely count, even if they happened months ago as you were forming a better impression through those months. Sound more petty than the leader of the Heartbreakers? Admittedly so. While I would never show it, I will harbor curiosities and form my own conclusions on why I was cast as a certain part, or if I wasn’t cast at all.

This has allowed me a better perspective as a director in the middle of casting. Of course, I fall into bouts of favoritism, as well. Like many situations, the worst thing to happen between someone of authority and those who follow him/her is social media. Facebook/Twitter/etc. have led to unoccupationings thanks to disgruntled employees voicing their opinions under the auspices of free speech. Hey, people, guess what? You can’t badmouth your employer! Same goes for your director/show, especially if you want a chance at a better part with the same company down the road.

I’ve seen several pissy responses to cast lists via social media. Particularly, Facebook has brought such truth to the phrase “there are no small parts; just small people.” As a director, I am a massive fan of actors like me: withhold your opinions on your part, be humble, and rehearse/perform to the best of your ability. Posting “Ughhhhh, cant B-LIEVE thissss!!! Nvr tryin out AGAIN!!! This iz da worst day ever…:'( FML” will always show me that casting you in your part was the right decision.Being overly dramatic in real life does not showcase your actual acting talent. Forge a stage presence, memorize your monologue, and sell it. THEN I’ll strongly consider you.

Until then, you think you come off as:

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When the actuality is I see you as:

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Except I WISH you had the ability to fake tears instead of just a whiny voice.

And yes, I’m well aware that those Facebook posts generally avoid proper capitalization, but I can only handle so much improper typing from these finger-digits.

Auditions are hard on both sides of the coin. It sucks that you can’t always get the part you want, and it blows that you can’t put all the worthwhile actors into their preferred parts. I’ve come to the realization that I will never be cast as my dream part of Cyrano (because I’m too damn beautiful), and I’m well aware that I could never cast all those who want to be Cyrano (because I’m too damn beautiful AND the director, and that’s just a douche move).

So let’s sum up the experience in three handy points of judgement.

Difficulty: 9/10 as an Actor, 7/10 as a Director. For the actor, some shows don’t even call for your gender/age/size range. It’s possible that shows which have a role for you are precast for that part (something I will never be a fan of as a director). Not only do you have to find a show where you can actually audition, but you have to compete against dozens to hundreds of others by being memorable, talented, and hardworking. As a director, you might have to pick from the best amongst the best or the worst amongst the worst. Those are situations you don’t want to toy with, but they are possible. All you can hope for is that everyone who auditions fits a part perfectly, and essentially let the casting play out splendidly.

That doesn’t happen.

Cringe-itude: B for Actors, A+++++ for Directors. As an actor, you get to see some monologues/cold readings that make you squirm. Then you get to see the cast list which show that the actor who made your skin crawl got the part for which you vied. FAVORITISM!! As a director, think back to the time that you actually watched American Idol. Then think of the really bad auditions. Then imagine that you have to say nice things to William Hung because you don’t want to see like a jerk. Then realize that William Hung would be more convincing as a strong supporting character than many of the other schlubs trying out. Then buy yourself a fifth of scotch and sip generously.

Necessity: 99.9%. The leftover .1% is if you, as an actor, know the director and are confronted for a specific part with the audition being just a formality. The director’s .1% is if you are casting your friends. Don’t cast your friends. Well, unless they are fantastic performers. In that case, just start your own company and invite me along so I can get some experience. I can be a good friend! You already know I won’t badmouth you on Facebook or Twitter!

Just…don’t check back here. Take my word that I will never* say anything bad about you on here.

-And, um…well. That’s that.

*spamodically

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