Let’s Talk About Entitlement

There’s all kinds of entitlement, and a lot of it worse than what I’m about to go off on, but this is just a pet peeve of mine that’s been activated in the last 24 hours or so.

Casting a play is a big deal and it’s hard, and you have to make decisions that are not easy in any way at all. Particularly once you’ve been at this for a while, people come back to you, and you like that person, you really do – and you really want to find a place for him or her because that’s a fun person to work with, or they’re really talented. But then other people show up, people you don’t know, and they’re really talented, too. And then you have all these people you know and love along with all these other people who are new but really very good, and then you have to look at what parts each said he or she would take and look at their calendars and figure out how best to make a cast from this big pile o’people.

And it doesn’t stop there! What is everyone’s availability? Did they say they would take any part? Did they mean it? Can you physically cast those two people together without it being really, really stupid looking? Will that OMG Really Talented Person totally overpower the only person who is in the running for the role opposite that role? What is going to be best for the cast as a whole? Do we take on someone here who needs more individual attention and then therefore cast some other people who are going to need less attention? How much of that can you do before the cast gets unbalanced?

There’s a lot going on here. So yes, your audition is important, but so is everyone else’s. And so are a lot of other things, namely “Can you be around often enough to take that role?”

I will go on record and say that we have NOT given people who are the closest of friends their dream parts. We have actually also quite literally lost friends because we chose to cast someone we didn’t know over someone we did know, on the merits of that person’s audition and chemistry with other actors. We’ve not cast people we love very, very much because they were over-scheduled and because there was no where in the cast for them (singly and as a stand-alone reason).

So, it was with more than a little dismay that I recently heard that we were being passed off as a clique by someone who tried out and didn’t get a role. I realize I shouldn’t and can’t take this personally, but it really, really irks me. We try so very hard to have integrity in our casting. We try to cast the person who will not only benefit as an actor from a role, but someone who wants to DO the role and someone who will make the ensemble better by being in it. But here’s a newsflash for you, gentle reader: Someone’s status as a rock star at some other house, or the fact that someone’s been cast in lead roles at other places does NOT mean that he or she will be cast in lead roles in our theater, and it’s not because we feel like you need to be taken down a notch or two or because we’re busy casting our friends.

  • It might be because that actor’s performance will totally overpower everyone else in the show.
  • It might be because that actor’s schedule is just not going to work given the roles s/he has indicated s/he will take.
  • It might be because, in spite of someone’s evident talent, there just is not a role in this particular show that suits that person.

It is never because we want to cast our friends.
It is never because we are a clique.

So step off our integrity. You have no idea what goes on behind the scenes or how hard-fought and fraught many of these decisions are. And you have no idea all the considerations and argument that went in to casting our last show, or this show, or any other show we’ve ever done. If you have a question about why you weren’t cast, ask us. Don’t run around thinking that since you’re so awesome we must obviously be casting our friends before other people — and if you must think such a thing, at least be classy enough not to gossip about it.

One Response to “Let’s Talk About Entitlement”

  1. Jen Says:

    Great post.

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