Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Am I Being Unreasonable?

A couple things happened this week that made me wonder if my expectations are a bit too high. After thinking about it for a bit, I've decided that I don't think I'm being unreasonable, but I thought I'd put my thoughts out here and let others help me out.

I was told this week by a theater owner that main stage, Fri/Sat/Sun shows at his theater may not hang lights. They are expected to use the same wash he has up. Now I understand wanting to make sure that a general wash is always in place, that's expected. But in my experience as long as a lighting designer does give the space a general wash in addition to the show plot re-hanging and moving lights around is common practice and perfectly acceptable. Apparently not in this theater because as I was told "any moron who has been producing theater longer than 2 months knows you can't re-hang lights." So my question is for all of us "morons" who have been producing theater for longer than two months has anyone else run into a situation where as the main stage show your lighting designer was not allowed to move lights around to create the desired look? It seemed odd to me. Granted I may be a bit bias now because I wasn't really thrilled with the label of moron or the screaming occurring on the other end of the phone line. So please enlighten me? Have I just been exceptionally lucky in my nearly six years of theater in Los Angeles?

I'm also in the process of scheduling auditions for an upcoming production. I put up a general casting announcement on LA Casting, started getting some actor submissions and began scheduling auditions. I feel like I'm pretty reasonable when it comes to auditions. The way this service is set up you must assign actors an audition time slot, when I do that I always send an email explaining they may simply email me and request a different time slot. I'm pretty accommodating when it comes to auditions.

There are two things that bother me about what I perceive to be many of actors on this service and other similar services. The first thing is that it seems to me that the bulk of them don't bother to look at the project itself. They get a notification that they "fit" the description, in this case male/female ages 21-55 and hit submit. They don't seem to bother to read what it is or really even think about if it is something they are interested in doing. I call these people the perpetual submitters. I have a list of them in my head. I used to schedule them and remind them about the audition and then they no-show constantly. You'd be surprised how many names are on the list. I don't call them anymore, it's a waste of my time. So question number one, and I ask because I'm not an actor so I honestly can't figure out the answer to this, why would you submit to things that either you have no interest in, aren't available for the audition or are already cast in a production that runs during the same time period. When these perpetual submitters do bother to email me back or decline the audition it's with reasons such as, "sorry, have class on Tuesday nights, can't make the audition," or "sorry, cast in Twelfth Night which overlaps this production by five weeks." My confusion lies in the fact that both the audition date and the run dates are clearly stated in the audition notice, so if you know you have class on Tuesdays and don't want to miss it for an audition then you probably shouldn't submit yourself or if you know that you are Juliet in a production that overlaps this one you probably shouldn't send me your information. So my question then is, if the information regarding dates is clearly in the announcement and the actor already knows they have conflict why would they submit? All it does is make me annoyed with that person and if they do it more than once they go on my do not invite list.

The second thing that bothers me are emails like the one I received this morning:

"Please remind me of this project and location details...I do not remember the initial audition request"

See here's my issue. I did my part, I took 30 minutes, filled in all the necessary information, character breakdowns, project description, venue location, audition date, show dates. It's all there, it's all on the site. Why does this person think that it is my responsibility to send her all of that information again? It's not my job. She submitted herself for this project. All an email like that does is tell me she probably didn't read the announcement in the first, and is now too lazy to do a bit of investigation work to figure it out on her own. (I should mention that in every email our company's website is stated as well as the name of the project.) I don't mind questions that are specific. Those show me the actor knows what the project is and wants some clarification. That's fine, but this "I do not remember..." doesn't instill much confidence. So my instinct is to not reply, I'm certainly not going to send her a personal email with all the details she can find online. I'm left to ask am I being unreasonable? Is it too much to expect actors to know what they submitted for and to be a bit pro-active by doing their homework?

So between the lights and the actors I'm left to wonder if my overall expectations are too high?


Costume Girl said...

I think some actors get off on being able to say "this production wanted me for their show but I'm SOO busy and popular I had to turn them down!" It makes them feel like people actually want to hire them for things.

Either that or it's the fear of success and hard work- they can claim to be working on their career, so it's not their fault they never get cast in anything!

And that theater manager is an ass.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that lighting thing is RIDICULOUS. I have never encountered that in my 9 years of producing theater. Yeesh!

I will say, though, the search functions on most of these submission websites are incredibly bad. When I am trying to figure out what the project is (since sometimes a project will take a long time to contact me and by then I've forgotten about it), or see the character description/audition info again, inevitably I will not be able to find the project under title, character, or any other obvious search. So... while it's totally annoying on your end to get the 'what project is this' question, sometimes it really is the only option.