It’s kind of a cliche but it’s true: In the theatre (and frankly in life) you are always auditioning.
From the moment you walk in the door on the very first day of auditions, through the end of strike on the last day of the show, you are auditioning. The way that you treat the Stage Manager who is running the door for auditions, the way that you behave throughout the rehearsal process, the way you treat the crew, all of that is being watched and evaluated.
Sure, your amazing audition might have won you the role that you currently have, but how you behave throughout the rehearsal and performance process will either make or break your ability to get cast with that particular company again (and maybe other companies as well).
There have been folks that Uprising has cast in a role that have ended up on our list of folks that we will hesitate to work with again. Not because they aren’t talented or didn’t do a good job in the performance but because they were hard to work with, they were disrespectful to the director, they were completely unconcerned about the mission of the company, or they made their fellow cast mates and crew feel disrespected or unsafe. Maybe they would show up to every rehearsal just a few minutes late. Or would snap when asked to do something. Maybe they simply complained a lot and brought down the mood of the room. Or maybe they were arrogant and put other people down. We’ve also had people who have auditioned for us in the past and didn’t get cast who have come to see a show and been rude to the person running the box office. Or who have badmouthed the auditions process on social media. Or who showed throughout their audition that they didn’t actually care about the mission of Uprising. We notice and will not cast these folks.
This isn’t about having a bad day or a bad audition. It’s about a consistent ethic that says that you have a chip on your shoulder, or that you believe that you are owed work and that it doesn’t matter how you treat other people, or that you just think you are so talented that your personal behavior doesn’t matter.
But it does. We are a small company and we want to work with people who are easy to work with, who work hard, who care about the mission of the company, and yes, who do high quality work. But we would rather work with someone a little less experienced who treats their fellow company members with respect than the most talented person in the city who treats other people like crap.
And it’s not just in theatre that this is true, and it’s not just with Uprising. All throughout life we should try to have a consistent ethic of treating people well, of bringing our best work to the table, of respect and cooperation, of being invested in something larger than ourselves, and of being kind. Above all, being kind.
I’ve found that the easiest way to get consistently good service is simple: go to the same place often, be easygoing and friendly, and tip well. That’s it. I do those three things and I get the most amazing service. It’s not about chatting up all of your bartenders; often I go someplace to work so I barely talk at all. But I use my manners, I smile, I say please, I treat them with respect, and I tip well. And they remember that and reward it. And even if I go to one of my regular places and I have a night of bad or mediocre service I am still polite, and still tip well. Because I know that sometimes people have an off night.
But at the root of it all, I am not behaving in this way so that I get good service, or so that I get a part the next time I audition, or so that I ingratiate myself to someone; I behave in this way because it’s the right thing to do. Because it’s the type of person I want to be.
I want to be known as someone who is good to work with. I want to be known as someone who brings my best to the table. I want to be known as someone who is kind. Who pushes the mission of the organization forward, who brings energy to the room, and who respects the people around him.
That’s why I am also really cautious about which groups I get involved in and who I partner with. Because I know that if I don’t believe in a group’s mission, if I feel like I can’t respect the people I am working with, if I am not on board with the way that they do their work I won’t be able to bring my best self to the table. I just won’t be able to. It’s not in my nature to fake it. And so I have to choose wisely. I have to invest wisely. It might mean I partner with less people but it also means that when I do choose to partner with someone or some organization I am all in.
So maybe if you don’t care about a company or a role you shouldn’t audition. Or you should turn it down if you get it. Maybe if you’re only acting as a job or for your ego you should examine that. Maybe if you think that you are better than everyone around you you should go after jobs where you’ll be in with a caliber of people you can respect.
But no matter what you choose to do, know that you are always auditioning. You are being watched and evaluated. So if you want to be on the team, be a team player. Be kind and courteous always. Be interested. Lift up the people in the room with you. Encourage them. Do your best and bring your best.