Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mousetrap

I didn't get in. It was a long shot, I suppose. The directors there tend to cast the same folks all the time, really. I could kind of tell I wasn't in good shape when everybody else there knew each other and were telling all the inside jokes during the audition. But I thought I would give them the benefit of the doubt, thinking they might be more open minded this time.

To be fair, the Apollo Civic Theater is not exactly the only community theatre in the world to be like that. Sadly many of them are, I am learning. Certainly the local ones.

That's not a moral judgment. Even good people can be "clicky". It's a matter of comfort and risk aversion in most cases, I dare say. A natural reluctance to give a lot of time over to actors with whom you have not worked with before, or only worked with little. It can be difficult for I imagine, to be willing to go out there and draw that new blood into an organization, regardless of which one it is.

Though it is not a personal judgment,
it is a legitimate observation. Given that this blog is designed to express my views on my acting experiences, I felt it was time to share that point of view about the sort of closed shop mentality that is prevalent in local theatres. I think new blood would do a lot more good than harm for many places, but I am in the minority, and frankly, think I have paid the price for that more than once.

Of course, every group of people has a right to behave in anyway they wish to behave when it comes to their art. I just find it disappointing that more groups tend to choose the same people over and over. Or that the practice is so very common.

Even if one chooses to believe that my view has no merit whatsoever, (though if you read the history of this blog I think you have to conclude that I am more than fair in my theatrical opining), there is also something about the way I learned of my rejection in this particular instance that really "gets up my nose" as the British may say.

I learned of my rejection when I got the old "we could not cast you" email. Which as an actor, I do get weary of, I have to say. Again, this is not just from the Apollo. All theatres that bother contacting you at all (many don't) actually tend to do reject someone in the exact same manner. The exact same phrasing, even..."We could not cast you at this time. We are sorry."

If a theatre is going to dislike what you do and not cast you anyway, disappointment is disappointment. Yet I in a sense wish that they would simply say what they really mean in their rejection letters;

"We do not want to cast you".

Saying we "cannot" cast you gives the impression that they wanted to, but were prevented by some sort of outside force. It is very clear that they were not prevented. The truth is, they did not care for what you showed them. Their dislike of your audition may be for any number of reasons, but none of them is, "we could not".

So despite the annoyance of it all, I cannot help but ponder how it might be refreshing to hear something like, "You do not do what we need done," or even "we chose not to give you a role in our show", instead of the patronizing, "We could not cast you, we are sorry." Not only could you cast me, but I find it very hard to believe that you are particularly sorry for not having done so.

Again, this is universal, and not an especial message to or about any given individual or group. If it were not so common, it wouldn't be worthy of comment.

The worst part of all of this, loyal blog readers, is that there is nothing left for me to do, theatrically, until at least the fall. All spring shows are cast, and summers tend to be set aside exclusively for kids shows. Something may turn up, but it seems doubtful.

And so, I know not what is next, and this may in fact be a sign that it is time for me to discontinue my theatrical adventures. (gasp away if you feel the need). But I have pondered it for a while, and losing out on the last two endeavors that I attempted has got me to thinking that maybe theatre just is not worth it any more...

I will write on this as I ponder the situation in more depth.

3 comments:

btchakir said...

Hey... if you think that's bad, try breaking in as a director. Every time I've moved to a new area, I've had to go back to the beginning and it's usually at least two years of tech volunteering or something to even be considered as a director... even with good reviews from major papers in previous locals.

BT

Kris said...

I think how a theatre chooses to alert the non-castees depends on how many people they have to turn down. I've gotten personal messages about how I just didn't fit with the other actors, terse messages that they cannot use me for this show, and have many times enjoyed the "you'll hear from us if we cast you" - promising at least two days of tension and despair. On the other side, I see talking to actors who don't get cast like telling a person you don't want to see him/her any more. They would like a reason, but what they'd really like is a chance to argue their case, even though the outcome has already been decided. I think all directors and theatre managers should make some effort to reach out. Make people feel valued, even if they aren't cast. Nothing makes a theatre go stale quicker than using the same talent over and over and over... Actors know there's a good chance they won't get cast, and they need some reason to keep trying. - Kris

Ty Unglebower said...

BT, That hardly seems fair to someone with such a displayed history of directing. But that is very much along the lines of what I am talking about with actors as well.

Amd Kris, well said about the possibility of things becoming stale at a theatre. That is precisely the sort of thing that I think some of the theatres I have worked with have fallen into. A pool of the same 20 people or so, and it really does discourage new people from coming back.

Not true for all places I have worked with, but more places than it should be true for.