Casting Director advice in Back Stage

I read a small thing this morning where a CD tells actors not to touch the CD during scenes where intimacy is part of the scene. She says not every CD was an actor so it’s not comfortable. Hmmm, where did we ever get the idea that CD’s were all actors at some point? Because a lot of them were and they take the time to remind us that they know our world intimately.

BUT this is good advice as you should treat them like they aren’t part of the scene because that’s how they like it. They believe they are just there to help you do both sides of the scene; yours and theirs. Wait… what? How can that be?

Well, even though they, as actors, never took an acting class where they did scenes with a partner who sat in the audience and simply threw them lines during the scene, that’s how they treat auditions. Why? Because that’s the system. They all agree that the best way to showcase talent is in a vaccum. It’s one sided, so as not to confuse the director with the performance of someone else. This is where your frustration of watching mediocre actors who are working starts.  Some actors audition very well, but when it comes time to making the scene work with another real actor, they don’t have the same skill. Real talent will prevail mind you, but this is what you are up against. The system.

It seems to fly in the face of when this same CD says -“I want (actors) to do the best job they can do, because then I can get the part cast and part of my job is done. I’m always rooting for the actor. If they do a good job, then I did a good job.” – doesn’t it? If they wanted your best work, wouldn’t they set it up like a scene, like it will be when you have to do the actual job? Why would they continue to make auditions about doing one-man shows with dialog…?

I have been the reader in many auditions and only because I made that happen. I was asked a few times but only after I made myself available and called requesting the position including that they wouldn’t have to pay me. I learned a lot about how actors treat the room and their work. It helped me audition better. I was also allowed, just a few times, to hear a bit of the dialog between readings and it’s not flattering. They’re just people, just like you, scared and insecure and hoping it all turns out okay. They have to decide on one of many versions of the same thing…you get to make decisions about one thing, you. So, see the advantage in that equation and make it a good one, live by it and show it off proudly. Within the system.

Then a bit later in the article this CD casually drops this bomb- “If you walk into the room and you give the best audition, and you look like the director’s ex-wife, you’re probably not going to get the job,” she says frankly. “There’s a human component in casting that people have to remember. You’re dealing with people’s emotions. So always do your best, and know at the end of the day that it doesn’t mean you did a bad audition if you didn’t get the part.”

There it is. They’re human. The system as flawed as it is, (except in theatre auditions where they always seem to have a reader)  promotes the flaws of a director who isn’t capable of seeing talent with the distraction of bad memories, while stating they are trying to get the best cast possible.

This is what we are up against and it’s also the thing that allows our humanity to be the very thing that allows a director to choose us, even when he can’t explain exactly why. These little nuances that might drive your logical brain nuts should also give your creative brain comfort because it says you can’t know what’s the right thing to do to get the part. You can only be your full, true, self and apply that to the page and allow the “human component” to work in your favor.