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Beside the Table

Auditions are so unnatural. We all know this…it’s a necessary evil, yadayadayada. Everyone tries to make it better. But they’re just ew. (Funny our dramaturgy teacher brought this up today as I was about to offer this entry! It’s always a fact of life in this business!)


I have been fortunate enough in my time as an artist to be on all sides of the casting table, as actress, audition reader and director. Though the pressure is quite different and there is often not as much at stake, I have to say that the place to be in the audition room is in the seat of the reader.

To get to witness and assist an actor in trying to land that important role is quite something. While in New York, I had the privilege of watching directors Daniel Sullivan, Mark Brokaw, John Rando and others work their magical little “adjustments” on actors during casting, and then watch them blossom. I got to hear casting directors talk about how awful certain headshots were. How disappointed they were that so-and-so didn’t bring it that day, and that they would bank on giving that ex-TV star another shot. Or two, or FOUR, and then they’d cast that person despite trained actors doing much finer work. I had people squeeze me and say thanks. Some other people barely noticed I’d read with them. I clocked directors taking note of how the actors treated “the help”. I gleaned crazy insight from the between-audition talks between the producers, directors and casting directors. I was privy to a lot of interesting talent- and non-talent-based decision-making. It was good for me to understand the process, but ultimately gave me severe audition heebie-jeebies. It may be another small reason why I started directing. I’ll uncover that in therapy some time.


Having now been behind the table for a number of years, I am most astonished by people’s lack of grace with the person “out front”–the one who took your name? That person. That person has a lot of power. If you’re a jerk to that person. Wow. Bad move. Sometimes, like in my company, the person in the hall is our producing director…you just never know.

All of this is to say, although they are necessary, auditions are *whack* for everyone. There are a lot of agendas and variables, and the best head-space to be in, whether you’re a student or a pro, or an actor or a director, is to get Zen. Breathe in, breathe out. All will be well.


One comment on “Beside the Table

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