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To Apply or not to Apply?

Facing Rejection
By Martin Frenette

Applying for jobs and facing rejection are two important components of an artist’s life. Even if tightly linked, they do not always come as a package: a celebratory piece of cake or scream of joy is as likely to follow a new email as a moment of “picking yourself up” (with an eye on that cake). Artists from around the world are in a position where they have to apply for parts, not  decide whether or not they are right for them.

Making the call and handing out contracts are definitely not in an artist’s job’s description!

Why is it then that you’ll often hear colleagues and perhaps yourself say “they probably won’t think that I’m good enough for this one anyway” or “I just can’t picture myself living in that city”? Self-doubt might be a protection mechanism for when things don’t turn out “cake worthy” but no stage will magically form itself under your feet and no crowd will witness how talented and impassioned you are unless you give it a try and answer that 20th, 50th or 300th casting ad.

Most importantly: let them make the call! It ain’t your responsibility to cast and, given that most artists are their toughest critic, you probably would not even cast yourself if it were. Just like the lottery, even if you feel like the odds are against you and that you have no chances of winning, someone has to.

Why decide and assume that it could not possibly be you before you’ve even walked into the room, sent that email or made a possibly life-changing phone call?

Again, applying for jobs is something that artists have to do. Just like you cannot win the lottery without buying a ticket, you won’t be up there on opening night without first learning and delivering those audition lines or steps. Stop asking yourself whether or not you are right for the part. Directors, casting agents and producers will make the call. That is not why you are here. Lastly, if you don’t believe in yourself enough to simply try and get cast, how could anyone else see that something special and have faith in you?

From the moment you walk into the room or start typing, the audition begins. Some directors have openly said that they knew before someone had even opened their mouth that they’d get booked.

Of course, if the character’s description reads “African-American middle-aged man who plays multiple instruments” and you are a 16 years old Japanese girl who cannot read music, that part really is not for you. Some aspects of who you are cannot be changed, BUT your personality can, just like a character’s identity in a director’s eyes. A teenage boy who raps might be what they originally envisioned, but whose to say that this mid-20’s young woman who beatboxes and tells stories like nobody else doesn’t have the charisma and wit to win the audience? Sure, they wanted a girl who does all the splits in an aerial hoop, but maybe a man who charismatically moves in a unique fashion on his trapeze can upstage any girl’s endless splits! Instead of looking for reasons why you won’t get cast, focus on what makes you special, on those best skills of yours!

The question is not “to apply or not to apply.” You simply have to. “Do I want to ?” might sound valid at first, but the inner debates that follow aren’t.

From a certain dislike towards the show’s city to doubts about finding enough joy and challenges playing that part 6 or 8 times per week, those arguments should not come up until a contract has been sent your way. Then and only then is it valid to ask yourself such questions. For now, it’s only about possibly getting on board, not dropping everything to join a production. Especially one that is very likely to change during its creation and rehearsal process while the creative team is feeding off what the cast is offering. It might not look like what you’re currently aiming for, but people who are holding auditions and receiving artists applications tend to cast for more than one show in their lifetime!

You might be wrong for this character, but a casting encounter could lead to a different part on another show in a month, a year or a decade even! One for which, you are the exact, perfect fit and that you wouldn’t have booked without showing up at that audition for which you were “so wrong, never going to get cast anyway!” As for a city that everyone describes as “boring,” keep in mind that it is those who are fueling and feeding cities with energy who are giving them their drive and personality. Not only are you included in this equation, but every person walking the streets, serving coffee around the corner or running the barber shop could turn out to be your next partner and crime. Therefore, why wouldn’t you consider taking a gig in “snooze city?”

As for a venue that isn’t known for producing hits nor for great backstage atmosphere, remember that those houses are just buildings and that home is a feeling.

What if the breath of fresh air and new energy brought by this latest production were to rejuvenate a theatre and become the one that you won’t want to leave? Online reviews won’t always lead to the right decision when buying a product or picking a restaurant and making a professional decision solely based on what the word on the street is could make you pass on a great opportunity.

At the end of the day, whether or no you decide to apply, one could argue that it is all “coulda, woulda, shoulda” and that things can always go either way, so why even bother? Because, as stated before, you just have to. The same way you have to preheat the oven prior to baking, but, most importantly, because no one has made an offer nor rejected you yet. Until then, your job as a freelancer is to apply and let others make the call.

Be optimistic, naive even, believe that every show could be your greatest professional and personal experience yet. Believe in the industry, believe in yourself, stop asking question and just hit that “send” button already. Once contracts are drawn, we’ll go over the pros and cons over a piece of cake. Until then, stick to your artist’s duties and give it all you got. Someone is meant to win the lottery after all!

 

Also by Martin Frenette:

12 Going on 38: Reprising A Role by Elena Lev

Composing Music: A Life of Laughter and Inspiration

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