How are you supposed to react when you’re rejected by a production staff? It sucks and it isn’t easy getting over any kind of rejection. Not that it is anything like a break-up, but it’s similar in the sense that you are often told:
“We are going in a different direction.”
“There’s no chemistry.”
How do you respond that? My friend, and producer, Christa has put it the best way:
“You’re allowed to be sad for 24 hours. Then you get over it.”
Now trust me, I know that is one of the most oversimplified statements of the year, and it’s hard to do when you’re the one being rejected. I have auditioned for roles and not been selected, it’s not an easy thing to process. But this statement, simple as it is, is true and helpful. Why would you, or anyone, hold onto those painful feelings?
It’s human nature. We find ways to make ourselves perfect for a role. We build ourselves up as the perfect person for how we, as an individual, see ourselves as the character. Then, we believe that we showcase those qualities for a staff of individuals who do have an entirely different outlook for their show. Can we win them over? Possibly, just no guarantee that you’ll be successful.
From a directors perspective, I think it’s important to recognize that every actor who comes to an audition has been (hopefully) working to impress you with their vision of the character. I’m going to try to be cognizant of this fact when I provide feedback for the actors who audition for Forum in the spring. I am also going to try to be cognizant of this during auditions, in case I see something I like and need to adjust my vision for the show.
Would I purposefully reject a brilliant actor so as not to change my vision? What if I like the new direction and need to adjust my plans and ideas?
I’ve been pretty open with my desire to gender bend Forum, specifically seeking out and loudly discussing the call for equality and removing some of the sexism from the content. I mean.. it’s the 21st century, let’s give it a bit of an update, right? But I had a bit of my privilege checked the other day by my friends.
“If the part in the script calls for a male to play it, and you’re set on casting a female in the role, and a male auditions for that part (whichever part it is) is the best person for that character–would you cast the male?”
I couldn’t possibly cast a female just for the sake of casting a female. I needed a plan. It’s no longer just about gender bending, it’s going to be a gender fluid casting call. I met with someone outside of the production staff to get an audience members perspective and determined that certain roles, which are historically male, are capable of being either of the sexes. But then, we took it one step further, how does their gender flexibility impact other roles in the show?
Not every part that is male can be female, and not every part that can be female should be played by a female. You have to take in the entire context of a role and it’s part in the songs (when and if applicable), as well as it’s role in the plot (literally). Does it make sense having a female actor be a male character who has to dress as a woman to cause confusion? I’m confused just writing that sentence.
What I’m trying to say is that it’s important to remain flexible as both an actor and a director. You can’t expect to be right for every role and you can’t expect to be right about every role–you have to be open to change and rejection. Allow yourself to be upset, but then pivot into a new, and hopefully better, direction. ‘Til next time.