Seldom does the casting of a local production occur and I don't hear about some sort of casting controversy. Every time I'm told of these "atrocities", I tend to ask myself, as well as the person telling me, were you actually screwed over or just didn't get the role?
Now to be clear, casting shenanigans at all levels of theatre exist, let's not be naive to think they don't. But as painful and disappointing it is not to get a role, it doesn't necessarily mean you were in fact, the victim of a vast conspiracy to keep you out of the show.
So I wanted to take two situations that I hear often and talk about how one is an example of just not getting cast and one that is actually an example of director shenanigans.
A director personally asks you to audition for a role, and then you're not cast.
A couple of months ago, an actor emailed me and stated that he hadn't been cast in a show, despite the director reaching out to him personally asking him to audition. Now while it's understandable for the actor to feel betrayed, upon further questioning, he wasn't actually "screwed over."
The director had asked the actor to audition for a role, but that's all the director had done. There wasn't any assurance or hint that the actor would be cast in the show. The director had simply invited him to audition for a particular role and offered to send the actor the sides beforehand.
Directors, especially local ones, do this all the time to either boost the audition attendance or ensure choices for tough to cast roles. I've done it myself as a director, without ever promising or hinting that it would guarantee casting. The director asking you to come out for the show, is simplly that, nothing more, nothing less.
A director hints or tells you that auditioning for a role would guarantee casting, and then you're not cast in the role.
Recently, a local director asked an actress to come audition for a role in an upcoming play. The director told the actress that she would simply need to show up, read for the role and she would get the role because of how badly the director wanted to work with her.
The actress showed up for auditions, read for the role and days later when the cast list was announced, she wasn't on it.
Obviously this is a prime example of being screwed over and an abuse of power by the director. Sadly, this happens more often than it should.
It's always beyond common sense why a director would choose to do this to a performer. It never works out in their favor. While they might get the performer they want, they've done nothing but sully their own reputation, which in especially small communities, can be irreversibly damaged.
Does this scenario rank higher in unethical director behavior than unannounced pre-casting? I believe it does. So if this has happened to you, I'm sorry to say that you were indeed, screwed over.
With every new production, the opportunities for directors to abuse their position exists. As a performer, it's always best to take what a director says with a grain of salt until the cast list is posted. And never forget the directors who screwed you over because you'll appreciate the ones who didn't even more.