On June 2 and just yesterday June 28, 2016, I had 2 heartbreaking passes on great jobs, after callbacks I prepared extensively for.
One from a theater I was dying to work at ( 7 weeks in Sag Harbor at a venue always reviewed by the NY TIMES) and the other, for a part that has been on my goal list for 10 years in the play DOUBT. I worked hard on both, finding the characters’ demeanors, clothes, accents: for both an Atlanta lady, the other a Bronx born woman. One a Jew, one a nun. One a comedy, one a drama. Memorized as much as I could. Two very accomplished actresses worked and read with me as part of my prep. They both were very reassuring that I was on point. I adore character work and love the writing of both plays. I showed up determined to do my best.
One never knows what they are thinking, but when everyone is laughing and grinning as you finish a comic scene, it’s a good sign. For DOUBT, the nods and the director thanking me for my adjustment and the hug from the CD as they released us, raises ones hope.
And yet, they can still can say no.
I wasn’t rejected because I was not right, or not ready, or ill prepared, or did something goofy in the room that confused them. That kind of rejection I strive to avoid, because those are things I can be responsible for. But sometimes, yes, you just guess wrong, they simple having something else in mind or you get typed out quickly. Next.
After my first happy callback, the theater put me in a holding pattern for 7 weeks. I got repeated calls from the CD via my manager that the decision was around the corner. Then 4 days before rehearsals would start out of town and I would have to empty my NYC sublet on impossibly short notice to get there, they cast a “name” whose shooting schedule had cleared up. I learned: that my schedule and considerations matter too and I won’t ever wait to the 11 1/2th hour like that again. Book me in a timely manner or release me! I have a life to plan too. I had let go of my value allowing the waiting to go on far too long. Good lesson.
For DOUBT (at a wonderful theater and with director I have worked before to excellent effect and reviews) at the callback I was one of 5 actresses to read for over 2 hours with 3 different actors. Two big juicy scenes. The first footing, I was wedded to an idea in my head of how a confrontation scene sounded and I was not as present to the other actor as I could have been. The director also gave me a very smart adjustment to bring back with the next person I read with. I made sure to breathe more and stay in the moment. I saw their nods and she thanked me with “really good adjustment Caryn”. Eventually, the CD came upstairs to dismiss us and gave me a hug, and hugged the lovely actress sitting next to me who I know and admire. But I was hopeful leaving.
Yesterday, another NO: via email from my equally dashed manager relaying some kind words from the CD’s solicitous phone call to her. Turns out that lovely actress sitting next to me got it.
Well it hurts. I was on a business call when I saw my manager’s email pop up with the last bad news and I burst out crying. The business person on the phone had a daughter who wants to go into musical theater. Through tears, I said “Well, tell her after 37 years, pros still have days like this”. I have learned to grieve appropriately and not dismiss the feeling right away, or it will transmute into something blacker later. I give myself a little mourning period and shared my loss with some of my support system.
The lesson this time? Still not sure, but I have many days like this. We all do. My manager said she was going to look for the play again. The casting director made the effort to call my manager, laud the work I did and say I would see him again soon. So… this time at least I reminded my value to colleagues.
I do know there are no “next times” with any theater, director or casting person if you don’t give it your best, don’t move them in some way, come from an authentic place or present with a fresh way of doing a role they did not expect. ( In fact, in NYC in May, I was cast in a staged reading in a new play as Mrs Charles Dickens. According to the playwright later, the role was really precast with a English friend but then I came in and they could not deny me the role. So that time it worked.) But in the best of weeks or months there are 10 to 30 “No”s by my estimate for every singular “Yes”.
But Success is not measured so much solely by the “Yes”, but by being called back again, and again, for something else by the same people! Or, they may just like you because you are low maintenance as well as talented. And for being gracious when the cards don’t fall your way.
Its been tough this month for me, but I plan on thank you cards to those who brought me in. Gratitude. God has bigger plans for me. And today, much of that mysterious plan got revealed too.
As a consoling friend reminded me yesterday while still in the dumps, “Something else big is coming, so don’t leave 5 minutes before the miracle.”
Keep preparing to your highest abilities, and showing up with both homework done and spontaneity! Cause we LOVE this, right?
Caryn West is an veteran acting teacher, director and coach who auditions and acts. She has taught many gifted and well known actors both in LA and NYC and is the only teacher cited on both coasts by Backstage polls and one of the “BEST AUDITION COACHES”. She has run Caryn’s Space for Actors since 1999. www.TheAuditionCoach.com firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook @CarynWestSFA West Hollywood / NYC