The Other Side of the Table: Doing My Part

The last couple of posts focused on what I would like to see actors do at auditions and callbacks. I also have heard from actors what they like and don’t like from auditions and callbacks. So here is what I commit to doing:

Stay on Schedule

Let me start by saying that I like people to respect my time, and in turn I respect theirs. Nothing is more irritating that showing up for an appointment on time and having to wait to be seen. One of the things that transitioned with me from stage manager to director is scheduling and keeping time.

I will observe audition times as closely as possible. Yes, on occasion an audition might fall a bit behind schedule, if so, I will work as hard as I can to get us back on track.

If you are called back, you will be seen and read equitably with everyone else called for the same role. Once I have seen what I need, I will let you go. I hear so many stories of people called to read for a part, only to wait for a long time, read once, and then be dismissed; even worse, not being read at all. I will make use of your time effectively. Most of the time.


I believe in communicating as much information as possible from the very beginning. Audition times, length and requirements will be readily posted; rehearsal times, dates, and locations will be provided at auditions; compensation will be clearly explained; any and all questions and/or concerns will be addressed in a timely manner.

You will always hear back from a production I’m involved in, whether you are called back or not, and whether you are cast or not.  Callback calls usually occur within 24 hours; calling back with parts can take up to a week. I know actors hate to wait around, alas sometimes it takes that long to get it all sorted out.

As director, I will always answer your questions and give you honest feedback if requested. Be ready for the truth if you ask.

Open Mind

As much as possible, I will keep an open mind during auditions and callbacks. If a part is listed as open, you can trust it is open. Being my friend does not mean you will get the role, as my friends that did not get cast in my shows can attest. My goal is to have a cohesive cast, and sometimes that means that even if you are fantastic, someone else is better for this one part this one time.


I will treat you with courtesy and respect. I am grateful that actors want to work with me, be a part of the production I’m doing. This includes the time before, during, and after the audition/callback process.

I will strive to stay true to these items, and if/when I don’t, do call me on it. Sometimes we lose sight of what and who we are and a swift kick in the rear is what we need.

The Other Side of the Table: Further Notes on Auditions and Call-backs

Last time I posted some straight-forward suggestions for a successful audition. This time, it’s a little more personal. My friend and colleague Lisa Thiroux posted about some gripes that she had as a director, so I know that I’m not the only director that finds some behaviors irritating. Here’s are some things that actors do that make me crazy:

Know What (And For Whom) You Are Auditioning

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before auditions, and definitely before callbacks (at least for a show I’m involved in):

  • Are you willing to make the commute to the rehearsal and/or performance location?
  • Is the pay enough?
  • Can you make the rehearsal/performance schedule?
  • Are you a package deal with your spouse/child/sibling/friend?
  • Will you accept a role if it is offered to you?

Are you willing to make the commute to the rehearsal and performance location?

Find out where rehearsals and performances take place. A lot of theatres hold rehearsals in locations other than the performance space. Will parking be an issue? Is it bus accessible? Don’t wait until you’ve been cast to realize that 45 minute commute is going to be too much.

Is the pay enough?

Asking/expecting to be paid for a gig is normal. Unfortunately, not everyone can pay and those who do don’t always pay a living wage. If pay could be an issue, clarify this before the callback. I respect and am ok with actor who turns down an audition invitation or callback because they can’t afford to the compensation for the commitment involved; I have less tolerance for someone who comes to callbacks, gets cast, and then tells me that the part is too small or the commute too long to do for the compensation offered. If I’m told early and I am able to, I am more likely to negotiate something.

Can you make the rehearsal/performance schedule?

Hopefully you will be given a general idea when rehearsals will be held during auditions, I know I do this for productions I direct and/or produce. Take a good look at the schedule and provide any and all conflicts to the best of your knowledge at the callback. Is rehearsal scheduled during a holiday weekend? A vacation? Rehearsals or performances for another show? Being upfront about conflicts can save, and solve, many headaches later.

For smaller theaters without understudies or stand-bys, a performance conflict is most likely a deal breaker. However, something can be worked out if the interest is there, as I’ve known of shows that have double-cast roles because they really wanted to work with a specific actor.

Are you a package deal with your spouse/child/sibling/friend?

Be upfront if your spouse/child/sibling/friend is also auditioning, and whether taking a part depends on them getting cast as well. Sometimes it goes one way but not the other, so please always make that clear. (for example, a child can get cast without the parent but the parent will not take the part without the child.)

Will you accept a role if it is offered to you?

I know, it seems the “right” thing to do is to say yes when asked if you’ll accept any role. Wrong. Casting every role is a painstaking process. If you get cast in a role you will not accept, you have just unnecessarily added more effort to the casting process than was needed. If you are auditioning for a specific role, be clear about that. If you will not accept ensemble, let us know so we don’t consider you for it.

Are you auditioning/waiting to hear from another show?

This has been a sore point with me for a long time. This might be a personal preference, but if you’re auditioning for/waiting to hear from another show, let me know from the beginning. If I really want to work with you we can negotiate something. I can knowingly cast you and be willing to wait the extra time I need to know how the other show comes up and have a back-up prepared, we can come to some other agreement, or both decide this is just not the right time. The only thing worse than offering someone a role and hearing back they’re waiting to hear on another role before fully accepting is to have someone quit after they’ve been cast because they got another gig I had not been informed about. I fully understand if I am not paying and an actor gets offered a paying gig or a role dream role, and I am willing to take that risk as long as I know up front.

One final note regarding callbacks. I understand and appreciate that sometimes actors audition as an exercise, especially in smaller theatres. In a strange way, I am ok with that. Please, if you do not intend to accept a role, do not attend the callback. Personally, I find that attending a callback and going as far as accepting a role only to decline it because you got another role you wanted more is unprofessional.

So what does all this boil down to? Be honest on your audition form. Don’t say something because you think it’s what I want to hear or keep information from me because you’re afraid you won’t get cast. In the long run, at least with me, being honest and upfront is the best bet.

The Other Side of the Table: Audition Etiquette

A few years ago I ran into Ken Davenport’s 10 Audition Tips for Actors. What jumped at me was that his notes to Broadway and Off-Broadway actors applied to actors of community and regional theatre as well, and it inspired me to write my own audition tips for actors that I relate to.

I originally wrote this when I was first started directing. A couple of years have gone by now, and so have many more auditions. I have spoken to others in the industry, and figured it was time for me to revise my thoughts and repost. These are not acting tips, simply observations and suggestions on how to arrive at the audition prepared and, more importantly, how to leave a good first impression.

Come Prepared

Always bring a resume and a current headshot. For newcomers, have someone take a snapshot and print it on regular ol’ paper. Make sure that you look like your photo; when casting we see 12 to 15 people an hour and if you don’t look like yourself it will be more difficult for the casting team to remember you afterwards. We also take note when your photo is obviously several years old.

If you are auditioning for a musical, bring sheet music in the right key and make sure that it is properly marked-up for the accompanist.

Pay attention to specific details in the audition notice. When the notice asks for a one-minute monologue, time it when you practice, we take note when you go over your time. The same goes for the music: prepare the length requested, and make sure that your selection showcases your best voice.

Check your calendar and bring your scheduling conflicts to the audition. It’s best to give the auditors an idea from the beginning whether they can work around your schedule or not.

Do Some Research

Is this a known play that has been staged before? What is it about? Is there a part in this show for you? Take it upon yourself to know something about the play before you audition, and prepare appropriate materials. If you are auditioning for a family-friendly musical, an audition piece filled with expletives is simply not appropriate.

Even if it is a cold reading, it is not okay to be clueless. I am always surprised to see how many people show up at an audition without any idea what the show they’re auditioning for is about, and whether or not there is a part in it for them. If unsure, ask.

Keep Your Appointment

If you make an appointment and for whatever reason you can’t keep it, call or email. Your time could have been used by someone else, or the auditors could have planned for a break. Do call if you are running late—hopefully you’ve been given a phone number by the stage manager.

Dress Appropriately

This is a job interview, after all. Please don’t look like you just rolled out of bed or are going out to a club afterward. It can be distracting and take away from your audition.

Establish the Reputation You Want

Word gets around. People talk. The theatre community is quite small and you never know where you’re going to run into the same crew again. Assume that everyone you meet at the audition, starting with the person that greets you, will have an opinion.

If you are timely, prepared, organized, and courteous, you might not be right for the part today, but you will establish a successful impression that will follow you to future auditions.