Ever wonder what your directors are thinking while they’re casting your next show? Of course you do, every actor does! As it turns out, the inside of a director’s head is a lot less mean and scary than you think. Here’s what I mean!
What you think we say: “Hope this is quick, we already know how this is gonna go.”
What we actually say: “I can’t wait to see how we’ll be surprised!”
We want auditions to go well! We want to see people do better than we expected, and we always want to find new talent. Most directors don’t simply precast their favorites and are open and willing to be surprised!
When an Actor Messes Up in Auditions
What you think we say: *Barely concealed laughter*
What we actually say: “Come on, get back on track, I know you can do it…”
When actors make mistakes, the production staff are rarely rooting for their failure. Usually your production staff are actors too, and they’ve experienced exactly what you’re going through. Watching an actor mess up or let nerves get the better of them can be painful! We just want you to do your best!
What you think we say: “Time to ruin some kids’ days…”
What we actually say: *Literally nothing of that sort*
We might be feeling a wide variety of ways after auditions, but we’re definitely not out to make anyone miserable. We promise!
On Casting the Ensemble
What you think we say: “Here lie the hopes and dreams of the untalented.”
What we actually say: “They’ll have fun!”
Genuinely almost every time we talk about the ensemble during casting, we spend a couple of minutes talking about our favorite ensemble memories. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again– the ensemble can truly be one of the best places to be in a show if you’re willing to let it be!
The ensemble typically has way less to stress about in terms of memorizing lines and solos, and gets to be in all the most fun songs. Plus, it’s a great way to practice all the necessary performing skills. Embrace it!
On Casting the Supporting Roles
What you think we say: “This person wasn’t that good and we don’t have anywhere else to put them. This will have to do.”
What we actually say: “This person was great! They’re perfect for this part!”
Supporting roles aren’t a dumping ground for actors who just didn’t do well. Remember there’s a limited number of lead roles in every show, and not everyone can land the lead they want every time.
On Casting the Leads
What you think we say: “Time to give my favorite the lead again!”
What we actually say: *Agonized decision-making*
Most of the time, casting is difficult, and comes down to a lot of diverse factors. Those who receive leads often simply performed the best in their auditions, or fit the parts better than anyone else, or seemed like the best and most enjoyable to work with. It’s always a multi-faceted decision and certainly not one any director takes lightly.
On Casting Someone in a “Smaller” Role Than Usual
What you think we say: “Wow, this person did terribly! We’ll punish them accordingly.”
What we actually say: “They fit here best!”
Getting cast in a role with fewer lines or less stage time than you usually have doesn’t necessarily mean you did bad in your audition or that we’re upset with you. Everyone has a certain “type”, and yours just might not have lined up with the role you wanted in this show. Don’t get down on yourself! Remember that just because a role has less stage time doesn’t mean it’s a bad role, and that every actor in a show is absolutely crucial.
If this role is a bit part or supporting role, we might just think you’re the absolute best person for the part. Take that as a compliment! That means we see your abilities and recognize your personality and wanted to do you justice by picking a role we knew you could play better than anyone else. It’s not a punishment!
On Student Improvement
What you think we say: *Cricket noises*
What we actually say: “I’m so proud of this student!”
Seriously: we notice your growth. We respect it. We look forward to seeing where it takes you. Even if you didn’t get the part you wanted this time, we noticed that you did well, and we noticed that you worked hard to do so. Please remember that!
On Posting the Cast List
What you think we say: “SUFFER.”
What we actually say: “This will be a great show!”
Directors cast shows the way they do because they believe they are setting up a great performance. There’s no other reason! Making actors happy with their roles might be a side consideration, but putting on the best show possible is priority number one. So again, casting choices (even ones actors might be unhappy with) aren’t personal, and we’re not trying to make anyone feel bad. Your directors have put some considerable thought into their casting choices, and “gleeful destruction of actors’ dreams” never has anything to do with it.
On Dealing With Cast List Drama
What you think we say: “Yeah, their frustrations are clearly understandable.”
What we actually say: “Wow, message received, don’t cast them again.”
Remember when I said casting choices aren’t personal? There’s one exception.
Cast list drama almost always stems from entitlement, insecurity, and inter-actor pettiness. We get it: not getting the part you want can be brutal. Your directors have probably been there themselves! However, complaining about the cast list makes you look like a diva with no respect for the abilities and effort of those around you. Consider: Every time you say something like “I worked really hard to get this part,” you’re implying the other person didn’t. Every time you say, “so-and-so didn’t deserve their part,” you’re saying that you think that roles are deserved rather than earned. These complaints also tend to accuse directors of some nastiness, too– favoritism, pettiness, and ignorance. You’re saying they’ve done a bad job and you surely know better. It’s not a good look, and these types of complaints can make you seem too immature and self-absorbed to handle a lead role, anyway.
If you’re looking to get a better role next time, keep the complaints to yourself, trust the process, and assume your directors acted entirely with positive, selfless motives. After all, you can’t control what your directors think and do. You can control yourself. Practice, get better, and make yourself the best person for the role next time!