When no one comes for auditions…what do you do? Let me tell you about an experience I recently had for A Charlie Brown’s Christmas.
Auditions were both Sunday afternoon and Monday evening, with an option Wednesday night callbacks (if deemed necessary to hold). We get there, get all set up, and wait. And we wait. Then, we waited some more. Granted, we were there early to set up and had hoped people would show up early to complete the audition paperwork–so a lot of our waiting was self-imposed. However, even after 15 minutes into the start of auditions on Sunday, we only had two people show.
And for the entire time we were there, we only saw those two people audition–no one else came. Cue panic. There were more production staff members than people there to try out for the show. Fast forward to when I found out my little black box, my home theatre, had 19 people show up for Dracula auditions. What.. even.. how?! Perhaps a multitude of reasons lead to the distinctive differences between potential actors and no real way to prove any which way.
The point of this post isn’t to dwell on what went wrong, but how do you move forward? You just go. That was only our first opportunity for auditions. The next day, we held an evening audition from 7-9 pm. More people showed. Just enough to get a cast together. This eased our minds and helped us breath a bit better. It became obvious, fairly early on into the evening, that we’d have more trouble deciding which actor fit which role. That’s a problem all directors like to experience, you can afford to be a bit more picky and selective dependent on how who acted as what and with whom.
There might not always be a bright side. You might have to call in on friends, or even acquaintances, who didn’t audition but you know could fulfill a roles characteristics well enough for the show. Is this an ideal situation? No, but this is a reality and a viable (if not scary) option sometimes. What if you can’t cast a show even with some favors pulled? Most theaters have a procedure to follow; notify your producer, who notifies the Board of Directors (or committee, depending on how the organizational structure is set up), and either another audition call is made, a different show fills the spot, or the show is cancelled entirely with rights returned.
It can be a bit of a downer and because, while most community theaters are non-profit, you are hoping the potential income made from this show can lead to some future improvement. Also, no one wants to feel like a failure. You begin to question what you could have done differently and what additional steps you could have taken between the first and second night of auditions. There’s no guarantee anything would have worked; sometimes it’s the material, the rehearsal or performance schedule, and sometimes people just need a break. It could also be any combination of things that are unknown to the staff.
If no one comes.. you survive and you hold your breath until the next night of auditions. You push forward until the show is cast or cancelled. You work until you can’t move forward any more and when it’s over and done with, whether the show went up or didn’t, you move onto the next one. There’s really no business like show business, even community theater business. ‘Til next time.