I’ve been thinking about a list of rules that not only I would adhere to for myself, but those outlined by my future and potential cast, even my production staff. What would they say? What did I want from my director when I was in a cast and as a member of staff? A lot of things–not necessarily because my directors were bad, some were but most were not–because of who I am as a person and what I need, want, look to receive. It can be a lot of information and potential, future casts may not know how to ask for what they need.
Oftentimes they take aside the director. I haven’t done that too much, I can only recall one instance with the director for Oliver!, with my now very good friend Christa. I asked if I could not be cast in a real role but just ensemble–I wanted to focus on assisting our Stage Manager with props. I knew then that I wanted to get a handle on back stage needs, demands; including preparing a theatre (physically), preparing a cast (count), and assisting a show (pre-, current, and post-production). I didn’t know then that I eventually wanted to become a director, but I was more at home behind the scenes than being on stage.
To get off track for a moment, remember this is all in my natural thought pattern of crazy train, I do miss being the center of attention but frankly… sometimes you are more centric when not seen. Your impact, your thought, your desire, everything that you pour into an actor, props, costume… it is all seen and immortalized for those moments on stage and in those audience members’ memories. It’s a better high, to me. An actor can provide their perspective on a character, but a director has an entire vision come to life from lobby (if they are lucky) to nail polish color.
Back on track. What would I want as an actor? Not much, just a few things–respect, a voice, an opportunity for introspective review, fair feedback, and validity. How do I get those things? By asking when either not received or as they come up. I think I’ll take a different perspective at time of auditions and at the first rehearsal–I’m going to have a spot on the audition form for any ‘special requests’ or ‘notes,’ from each potential cast members. This will not be used against them as a casting choice. I will reiterate upon announcing the cast to each other in the initial email, if there is anything to take into consideration.
I think often times, especially with actors, they forget their personal considerations because they are so excited to audition, then excited to be cast (especially if it’s a role they are dying to have)… but then!, that’s when the real work happens. Distracted by learning lines, memorizing blocking, learning your counterparts lines, getting familiar with your props, feeling comfortable with your costumes… you don’t know what you’ve been absconded from noticing until it’s opening week. An actor must make themselves heard. I just often wish that it came sooner than tech week.
Let this post serve as a reminder that while you are a part of a cast, ensemble, lead roles, a production… you are still you. You have to ensure your voice and preferences are heard. So I think that’s one of my rules, more to come-of course, to listen and hear my cast when they are pained and ensure their is a mutual balance struck between person, role, and production. Speak up for yourself–’til next time.