A letter to casting directors, directors and producers: Auditions

I usually share stories and anecdotes on things I have done as an actress so that you can take my faux-pas and experiences and turn them into successes for yourselves. But today, I want to suggest something to all the casting directors/director/producers out there that they can do to help me and my fellow actors bring our A-game.

I have spoken before of all the variables that are present for an actor to book a role. And, most of the time, these variables are within the actors control (health, voice, knowing your look/type, poise, confidence, preparedness, even cleanliness), but it is seldom that we address the variables that are NOT within the actors control, that are solely the responsibility of the people holding the castings:

1 – A clean, quiet space within which to audition/perform.

2 – Sides/Script regardless of whether or not the actor is meant to bring their own*

3 – Time to prepare (like getting the breakdown/sides/script, etc to the actors at least a day before an audition if not sooner**)

4 – Your (the audition-holders) full attention

5 – A reader if there is another character on the sides (see point #4)

6 – Punctuality (that the audition/call-back, etc happens on time)

“Duh!” right? Not so fast.

I am astonished how frequently auditions are just flung together last minute. It would behoove the Casting Director/Director/Producer (or whomever is holding the audition) to give the actor ample time to prepare for the role. Like, perhaps a measly 2 days? I don’t know why, but for some reason, it seems to be the norm to give an actor very little time to get familiar with a given script – if at all. Perhaps this is a test to see if we are good on our feet. But I have to say that you cannot expect to see an actor perform to the best of their ability if you spring traps on them. Not me, anyway. Why aren’t we given more time with the script in general?

Also, if you are holding an audition, why wouldn’t you have the script/sides available in email form to send to the actor before-hand? It’s 2011. It is quite ridiculous to think that an actor owns every play ever written. And they definitely wouldn’t have access to a film script that isn’t already produced. Therefore, it would be great if there were additional sides available at the audition itself. I know that it is good for me as an actor to show up prepared, but if I don’t own a copy of the play you are producing and you didn’t email me sides and you don’t even give me time to go and acquire said material, why-oh-why would you NOT have sides available at the audition?

What’s more, why wouldn’t you hire an assistant to read with the actors at the audition so that you could put your attention where it is needed – like, say, the performer standing in front of you? There are so many people in the city of New York who’d give their right arm to intern for a day at an audition. Put up an ad on Craigslist for a reader and see how many emails you get in response. There’ll be a lot. Or ask me and I’ll find one for you – EASY.

So. CD’s/Directors/Producers. If your auditions aren’t managed properly, you’re setting even the best of us up to fail.

OK. So, why am I writing this? How does it help actors?

To give you a rare opportunity to let yourself off the hook! As an actor I have been in this situation a lot – and recently – and I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve admonished myself over it. Left an audition and felt lame and stupid because I couldn’t’ve magically done what was frankly impossible for me to do. Thought to myself “Ack. I should’ve figured out a way to get my hands on that obscure translation of The Three Sisters in the extra 10 minutes I had between waking up and this audition”. But, the truth of the matter is – sometimes it’s out of our control. We don’t deserve self-admonishment and to feel bad about ourselves because the people holding the casting were not prepared. We certainly don’t deserve to be treated as if we’ve done something wrong. We can only do our best within the circumstances we are in. So, please do not walk away from a slip-shod audition process and torture yourself for something that is not your responsibility.

It is vital that, for an actor to do their utmost best, that they be offered an environment within which to succeed. That being said, it IS our responsibility to do the best within the circumstances we find ourselves. Don’t give up just because a given situation isn’t perfect. Still go for it 100%. You’ll be a better actor – hey maybe even a better person – for it.

* Every actor must be responsible for their own sides/scrip if it is that kind of audition. Don’t depend on the people holding the casting to have it all there for you.

** In the case of industrial and commercial auditions it is not common practice to onward text before-hand. Same for voiceover – although, I wish they’d change that. I’d love to have more time with a vo script!


About The NYC Actor

Angela Dee is a professional actress working in Film, Theatre, TV, Commercials and Voiceovers. She currently lives in New York. www.angeladee.com

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