… like you were walking onto a yacht …

Mar 18, 2011   //   by Kate Powers   //   Coaching Tips, Director's Notebook

You probably think this post is about you, don’t you?

Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Last Thursday and Friday, I was casting a show that I’ll direct in June. The artistic director of the theatre and I were working with two capable, consummately professional casting directors. At the initial casting session, we saw one young woman in whom we were very interested; we decided to call her back. The casting directors told us matter-of-factly about how she’d been dismissive and rude to them in the hallway, and at a separate casting session earlier in the week; at the start of the callback session, we learned that she had been difficult with their assistant on the telephone when she was scheduling the callback. I heard later from another actor about her disrespectful behavior to the other performers while waiting to come into the room, but by then, it was all over.

The moment I hear that an actor has been rude to anyone involved in the process, a crimson flag flies up. Once I hear a second report, the odds of my offering that actor a role diminish to nearly zero.

Was she courteous to me in the room?  She was.  Did she appear to be a professional, polished and focused?  She did.  Did she have some talent in a sea of pretty ingenues who can barely speak, much less act?  She did.  Did we give her serious and thoughtful consideration after we’d heard about her antics?  We did not.  Does it seem unfair to you that I dismissed this young actress based on what others said?  Recommendations are how people get work.

Her audition – your audition – includes every breath of interaction with every participant in the process.

You are auditioning when you are signing up with the monitor at an EPA; you are auditioning when you are talking to the casting director’s assistant; you might even be auditioning when you are screeching into your mobile phone while other actors are trying to prepare. If you are a jerk, the director is going to hear about it. The artistic director is going to hear about it. However special your talent is, it isn’t so special that it gives you permission to treat other actors or staff with contempt or incivility.

No one is making enough money to put up with your insolence. If you are wondering if you’ve ever been peremptory or rude to someone at an audition, you probably have. (I certainly have, but not in a long while.) Maybe you didn’t mean to be, maybe you were just anxious or preoccupied. It happens. But if you catch yourself in the act, own it. Apologize. You can cultivate your own mindfulness. If you don’t realize it til later, don’t be too surprised when you don’t get an offer.

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You lie, in faith, for you are called plain Kate,
And bonny Kate, and sometimes Kate the curst;
But Kate, the prettiest Kate in Christendom,
Kate of Kate Hall, my super-dainty Kate,
For dainties are all Kates, and therefore, Kate,
Take this of me, Kate of my consolation…
--The Taming of the Shrew, Act II, scene i