Tell me if this story sounds familiar: You leave an audition feeling like you absolutely crushed it. So much so it would be a complete shock if you weren't offered the role. Days go by and you hear nothing until the moment you're told the role was given to someone else.
Aside from being sad and angry, chances are you might be a bit confused. Why didn't you get the role? What did you do wrong? What could you have done better?
If this sounds all too familiar, it's because this literally happens during most audition processes. And unless the director obliges you with honesty, many of these questions will never be answered.
But why does it have to be that way? Why can't performers be told the reasons why they weren't offered a role? Why can't they be told what they need to improve on?
I've always maintained that if actors want to be cast, they need to work on their skills. But they also need to know what skills they need to work on.
Whether it's doing a better job connecting with a character, improving dialects or the dreaded "not having the right look", these are things performers need to know. By doing so, they can then take the necessary steps to hone their craft.
By not doing this, it can lead to assumptions and paranoia. A performer might think the loss of a role might have been due to their physical appearance rather their talent and that can lead to some serious issues. It can also lead to actors giving up the career, thinking they weren't good enough when all that was needed were small adjustments. A more transparent audition process could prevent that all together.
I spoke to one artistic director of a local theatre in Georgia. He told me that after he posts the cast list, he emails his audition notes to every single person that auditioned.
"This way the actors who did not get cast know exactly what went wrong and what they can improve on. It helps eliminate the second-guessing and the rumor mill over the casting process. If someone knows they need to do a better job emoting or showing range, they can work on that, come back to the next audition and be a much stronger candidate for a role."
While this might not work for every type of audition at certain levels, it's certainly a good idea in theory. This is also a good idea for smaller theatre communities that often see the same group of people audition. By letting performers know what they can do to get better, only helps to strengthen your talent pool for the next show.
And this isn't exactly a foreign concept either. Many times after a failed job interview process, the typical procedure is to ask why one didn't get the job. I've done this before and received some constructive feedback which helped me land jobs later on.
While the egos of actors can certainly be fragile, the uncertainty of what can be improved upon is even more prevalent. What could begin to curb this is if more casting directors and directors were more honest with performers about why they weren't selected. In an era where more transparency is appreciated, this could be a major help.
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