These two words are at the heart of my two cents worth of advise to anyone out there in the world who would like to get cast in a show.
If you are an actor, you may be thinking, “Help you what?”
If you are a director, an artistic director, a casting director or production manager, you may be thinking, “Yes, please help!”
If you are none of the above, consider this an insight into the world of theater and read on anyway, if for no other reason but to store the information in your brain to be disbursed at some later time during a conversation you may someday find yourself engaged in about casting shows.
What I need help with is to solve the auditors’ dilemma*.
The Auditors’ Dilemma
I attended a huge audition at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre a few weeks ago as an auditor at which I amassed a mountain of actors’ photos, headshots which are at present, piled all around me. I am sorting them: men go in this stack, women go in that stack and children go in the little stack on the corner of my desk. Some of the headshots have resumes printed neatly on the back (best), others have resumes stapled on (acceptable), others have resumes precariously paper-clipped on (less desirable) and others are missing resumes altogether (frightening). I search though the pile for the missing resumes and cannot locate them. I check again and to my dismay they are nowhere to be found. Some of these resume-less headshots have the names of the actors printed on the front, others do not. The resume-less headshots that do not have names on the front get thrown out.
Pretty face. No name. Unidentifiable. Goodbye.
Of the resume-less headshots that have the names of the actors printed on the front, I go to Google, type in their name and hit enter. If the actor has a website (agency page or personal), great! I can at least glean resume and contact information from there, print it out and staple it to the headshot myself for future reference. If I cannot easily find resume and contact information on a website or if actors have nothing but a Facebook or LinkedIn or YouTube or Tribe or Classmates or Plaxo or Twitter or some other cool new social networking tool presence where I cannot easily obtain the actors resume, email address (to send an email with an invitation to audition for a role) and phone number (to call and make a casting offer) I may not want to bother spending any more of my time doing detective work searching for contact information for these invisible actors who apparently do not want to be invited to auditions nor be offered any roles. If they did, their information would be readily available to those who need it.
Handsome features. No email. No phone number. Goodbye.
As for the complete headshots and resumes remaining in the three stacks of men, women and children, they will be sorted further, categorized and cataloged by age, type and any array of other attributes including Shakespeare experience, musicals, dramas and special skills.
Which brings me to dancing.
Please, if you are an actor, help me cast you:
- Please make sure your resume is securely attached to your headshot and that your name is printed on the front of your headshot. Also make sure your email address and phone number (or that of your agent) are included on your resume.
- Please get a website that includes your phone number, email address, resume and some additional photos of yourself. Be sure to keep your website updated if you change your email address or phone number. (I might have a headshot and resume of yours from two or three years ago. If you have changed your email address or phone number since then I need an easy way to find your new email address or phone number so I can contact you.)
- Please take dance classes, any kind of dance classes. Tap. Ballet. Jazz. Anything. I see you can act. I hear you can sing, but what I want and don’t seem to be able to find enough of these days, are actors that can move interestingly across the stage and do a swing-dance-hip-hop-tango-till-the-lights-come-up-good-old-fashioned-boogie-woogie-cha-cha-simple-yet-elegant-waltz if called upon to.
While is is imperative to find great and appropriate monologues, and it is important to practice your monologues and songs to perfection, and while you may even enlist the assistance of an audition coach to help you prepare for your audition, remember the auditor’s dilemma and remember to help me.
*Having just had a discussion on this topic with Denise Stevenson from KZST at the press reception for La Cage Aux Folles at 6th Street Playhouse, and having just finished reading and thoroughly enjoying Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, I decided to relay excerpts from my own experiences surrounding the basics of casting from the perspective of the auditor in this article. I adopted Michael’s theme of “the dilemma” and thus The Auditors’ Dilemma is born. Now on to In Defense of Food.
Cheryl Itamura is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Real Live Theater.
Other articles by Cheryl Itamura include: