It’s OK to say No over YES!!
It’s generally a good rule of thumb that if you want a part in a show you should say yes to anything you are asked. However what happens when you become the ‘yes person’? You say yes to so many things but fail to deliver when it comes time to the crunch. So here are some things you should never say yes to along with a few other small hints for actually securing your dream role from a producers point of view. I stand by everything I write here and am actually producing a piece full of cast members who followed these rules, and as such they are for me producing a wonderful piece of art. Producing art should be the goal of every aspiring artist.
A small CV is better than a page full of lies. You will be asked to do accents on the spot or play something on the piano. Why? I want to see if you can entertain me without preparation as theatre is risky and things always go wrong.
If you say you’re comfortable with intimacy such as stage kisses then at a call back pucker-up. So for the boys if you go for a gay role, you will kiss a stranger in the call back. I saw quite a few guys take a last minute turn for a hug. What does this mean to me as a producer/casting director? I don’t trust your Yes’ and you will be difficult to work with. Do I want you to kiss in the show? Who knows? But I want the option if that’s where the work leads things. You can’t have barriers up.
Never claim to be a singer unless you can out sing the panel. Why? Because if I can out sing you and I consider myself more an actor over singer than there’s a problem. Your only saving grace to bad vocals will be if you bring your acting to life in the song, if you do that than I don’t care what you sound like. Have a listen to the original cast recording of A Little Night Music, there’s some great acting there and you forget the vocal quality, and that’s just the recording imagine it live.
Following that, do some research on the show and audition panel and DO NOT DO Shakespeare if someone on the panel has studied it, unless you know what you are doing. Because I will stand up mid audition and recite to you my favourite Shakespearian speech, to both cure my boredom of a full days auditions and demonstrate to you that this is the way you deliver his work. This is not to be mean, but to point out that you need to know what you can an cannot actually do. I’d rather see 5 lines of dialogue performed with purpose than 15 lines without focus.
If you say you are fully available and then change your mind after I’ve turned other people away I will black list you. Why? Unless you plan to donate money, you are being given an opportunity and you should be grateful. The only exception is leaving for a genuine reason, leaving for another show is not a genuine reason unless it is a fully paid professional show. Sorry but profit share and not for profit are in the same boat to me until the profit line is hit then they become separate. I can say that as I run a profit share company and know that each show is on the line, the upside is that each show has the potential to be a professional gig for me if I work hard enough. Also just because a show is not for profit does not mean they don’t deserve your respect. Respect is key to success.
Don’t cross audition when you know you have a season right in the middle of my rehearsal. Everybody talks, and most don’t know how to shut up in this wonderful industry myself included as a loud mouth. This means I’m going to phone directly, not e-mail but phone and have a nice catch up chat with Joe John who I haven’t spoken to in ages and you are my conversation starter. As a result you will be kicked out of their show and I won’t cast you either. Sorry but the arts has so little time and funding as it is, we have no time for time wasters.
Don’t for the love of yourself wear anything that you can’t move in. Girls hair back off your wonderful faces and please what is with the mini shirts? I had no idea how to tell the girls I knew what colour underwear they were wearing, and for some I didn‘t even have to think how to say that as it was missing – AWKWARD MUCH?. Was it on purpose to get the part? Was their acting that bad that you can’t help but try find a distraction? You see how you add problems to casting just by wearing a short little nothing, wear pants, seriously girls pants is fine we’re all actors. As for boys, less is more. I’m all for the metro look, but at an audition they aren’t auditioning my outfit. Yes I’m talking jeans, t shirt, another shirt over this shirt, jacket, sunnies, wristbands, rings and armbands. Pants, top plus shoes that’s all you need guys. Think – I’m a canvas with a skill set that they can use to help bring their art to life. I don’t want to see a finished picture, there’s no where to go then.
There are so many more things I could write, but what I have to finish with is you need to be honest. Don’t say yes to everything. No is not a bad word. I will respect you more if I know your No’s from the start, I then know what my options are. Also know yourself and trust your own honesty, so don’t say yes to auditioning for a show because you like the company or show but hate the role or part they have offered. You would be more beneficial as an audience member or stage hand. No is not a bad word I say yet again, so many bad performances come from knowing there is no heart in the performance it’s just another credit on their CV, or they just wanted to be part of any show.
Take this and use what you need in your journey. That is all.
Please note that the comments above do not reflect the views or opinions of Theatre People.