"It was an Oversight" is an Ignorant Reason to Not Cast Someone

Kevin Ray Johnson

People in the theatre business will say anything to avoid confrontation. I can understand it, but I think avoiding the truth in fear of confrontation leaves an open door to just downright lie. People may disagree with what I say, but I truly need to say this because this excuse is becoming more and more common when it comes to my friends on the education/community theatre and the semi-professional level where they are using the “oversight” excuse on why someone didn’t cast someone in their show.

An “oversight” is defined as a failure to notice or do something. I cannot help but call B.S. when a director directly tells a performer this. Maybe in a very narrow-minded way of thinking, they feel this sounds more professional, but to be honest it completely doesn’t. What directors who say this don’t realize is they are insulting an artist while at the same time making themselves look incompetent.

You are pretty much saying when you were casting a show you failed to notice someone auditioning for your show, so you, in a way, failed to do your job. Before you make the argument saying that “maybe that’s on the actor”, there is a difference between leaving an impression and being completely unnoticed, so even if the audition is “bad, dull, etc.” it is still not going unnoticed.

I repeat, this has never happened to me, but having heard about this excuse used several times to my friends who weren’t cast in shows that they were specifically asked to audition for by the director, I was just baffled on why, if you wanted to cast someone, how you would fail to notice them. Saying “it was an oversight?” is understandable in a master class or if you work as a casting agent, but as a director (at a community, educational, or semi-professional level) to me, that makes absolutely no sense.

I have had many wonderful opportunities to perform for some great companies in my career, and there are times when I audition for the same companies, and they would professionally tell me that “they decided to go another way”. Was I disappointed? Of course. But it is quite refreshing as a working actor to be pretty much told “This is what it is. Thank you for submitting your information”.

So in conclusion, just be honest. Just keep it real and simple. Saying “Thank you but we decided to go another way” is completely okay, and I feel at this point with how people on the other side of the table make up unnecessary explanations, it’s come to the point in our business at that level that it is necessary!   

You don’t want to get to a point where people have an ‘oversight’ when you are casting a show and no one shows up so just keep it positive, simple, and honest.