I look online and find an audition. Play or Film it doesn't matter, but let us say I find an audition for a show I have always loved and wanted to be a part of. Oooh, for example; they are doing Proof at a small professional theater in GA. Their page says they are doing season auditions and in order to be considered for Proof, I need to come to these season auditions. The rest of their mainstage professional season either has been cast or only consists of parts I would never be good for in a million years. Their second stage season (which by the way only pays $100 for the entire run of a show and is littered with shows I would never do) is wide open.
So out goes my headshot and resume along with a letter stating that I have looked at the season and am especially interested in the part of Catherine, but would accept the part of Claire, but I am only interested in auditioning for Proof or the Mainstage Season.
Shortly after I receive an email saying how glad they are to have me coming. Here is my audition time and date. Please fill out this sheet. Bring...yada...yada...
Sometimes I have even been known to submit an email a week beforehand stating something along the lines of, "Hey, I am really looking forward to auditioning for Proof at such and such time. Are there specific sides you want me to prepare or just to come in?"
To which I will get the standard, "oh you will just be reading from the sides they give you when you get here."
I book the hotel, take off the allotted time, look to see if there are auditions for other things in the area, usually there aren't, and make sure the dog is safe. I am good to go. I drive the five to eight hours and check into a hotel that is likely costing me $130 a night. I, hopefully, am only staying one night, but let's be honest, I will be staying two. At some point, I drive by the theater to check on the location, check the traffic, and see how long it will take to get there in decent traffic. I make adjustments to my schedule based on how traffic is and when my audition is. If it is between three and seven I know I need to add at least an hour to my travel time. I check online, as I have for weeks, to make sure the parts are still listed online. They are.
I sleep, get dressed, eat well, and continue to prepare for the madness. And this is just the preparation to get to the audition.
I am very excited. I love the show proof. I read it and re-read it. I studied films and movies and plays that have been performed of Proof. I read up on math and work on how I walk, talk, think and act. Everything about me says, Catherine. I show up, early, to my audition with my glasses in hand and an outfit that says nerd with a purpose.
I walk with confidence to the table and hand them the headshots and resumes and state with a smile, my name.
"Ok thanks, and what were you auditioning for today?"
"Well I saw online you were auditioning for Proof so I drove here and am ready to go. Claire is fine but I really want to play Catherine."
At this point the poor girl running the audition looks at me in horror.
"OH! Those parts were cast months ago. We were just auditioning for the second stage." I smile trying not to punch the poor girl in the face. In know it's not her fault, but, I have emailed and emailed and reiterated many times in those emails, that this is my reason for showing up.
"Your website had those parts listed. I even checked the website this morning and according to your website, those parts are up for grabs."
"Yeah, our web host hasn't updated yet." Or, "They had auditions five months ago." Or, "Sorry the show was precast, hope you didn't drive very far."
At this point, my heart is no longer in it but I do go through the trouble of auditioning. Why not? Maybe the equity actress playing Catherine will come down with a terrible case of pregnancy and get so fat she can't play the part and they will need the understudy to step in and I will just happen to be that person.
This has happened a lot to me in my life. I drive hours in one direction to arrive, ready to audition for the great role I was destined for. Louise in Gypsy, Hedda in Hedda Gabler, Ulla in The Producers. I hint and inkle and, on occasions, ask flat out well advance of driving ten hours. I am told over and over again, the part is up for grabs. I get there, sign in, and at that point am told, "Oh the part was never available. Some friend of the director is playing the lead. We just need Chorus."
I find a film script online with a part in my age range that I know I can play better than anyone. I am told, "Oh yeah come to the audition. We really want to see you audition for this part. You'd be great!"
I arrive to looks of horror, "Oh my gosh. I am so sorry. The Director slash writer wrote the part for an actress he saw in an indie at a festival. Sorry. Yikes!"
Now, quite often in these situations, I get offers for smaller parts. Sometimes co-starring roles. No big. I may or may not accept them. However, it bugs me to no end when a "professional company" is the one who does this.
In fact, I think, when it comes to shows, you either need to pre-cast every role or none at all. The few times I have helped put on a show, or put on one of my own, I have pre-cast the entire thing. Now once or twice when I did this with something I wrote, the studio said, "we can keep you but we are recasting everyone else the way we want." But this is their money. I can't say anything.
I also admit one time to having asked for video submissions for a part I already had. This was to see how people read the character and to see if I saw another character in them. I never called these people to audition for my role face to face.
When you pre-cast one role, you are now forced to cast that show around one actor, maybe two. Really, this is a detriment to your production. Now the show revolves around an actor, and not the story.
Well, this actress was brilliant, but he is a red head and we can't have two red-heads on stage because it would look weird in the light.
We loved his performance but we can't have Laertes be taller than Hamlet.
Sorry. We thought you might be good for the role of trailer trash wife, but now that we see you in person the only real part you fit is the lead and we already have her. (Sadly this was an actual statement from someone.)
I find when shows are precast, there is always a problem somewhere. There was a film I shot forever ago. I was playing the ugly nerd girl and they had already hired their girl next door cheerleader type. The entire time the AD and DP were trying to get the director to give me the larger role because I was "better looking than the supposed 'hot chick'" Needless to say the fights in that movie just kept on giving and the project imploded.
Really, in the end, what I am asking for is not difficult. If you pre-cast one role, pre-cast every role. If you can only pre-cast one or two roles, don't precast at all. Seems so simple, and actually saves headaches, and angry actors.
Oh...and never call in an actor for any part they can't audition for. That is mean.