What Actors Are Not Telling Directors and Casting Directors

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Photo Credit: Liz Welsh via cc

We are delighted to republish this article from the wonderful blog Bitter Gertrude. Bitter Gertrude is written by Melissa Hillman the Artistic Director of Impact Theatre in Berkeley.
So here you go. The things actors are thinking but don’t ever tell you.
Recently I posted on The Book of Faces that I was considering writing a post about audition tips for theatres, and I was deluged with responses from actors: horror stories, pet peeves, constant annoyances, along with gratitude for moments of kindness, special consideration, and respect. I had comments both publicly, on the post itself, and privately, in messages and emails, by the tankful. Actors shared with me their ups and downs about the entire process, not just auditions, and it was quite an education. Going through them all, one thing stuck out to me immediately: No one is telling anyone else the truth about any of these things.
This is where I always come in, right? My brother likes to call this “career-limiting behavior.”
So here you go. The things actors are thinking but don’t ever tell you.
Note: I invented exactly none of this. Everything you see below comes directly from the actors themselves. And while I’m certain there will be actors who disagree (“What? I LOVE having to come in for 6 callbacks for a show that pays $250.”), I only included issues mentioned by multiple actors.
Also: This is for producers and directors, and I include myself in that (obviously). I’m in no way perfect and make mistakes all the time, so don’t think I’m castigating you from on high. I am but the messenger. I have many posts with advice for actors (on Bitter Gertrude), so don’t worry– I’m an equal opportunity meddler.
Of course we all screw up from time to time. I’m no exception. I make 12 mistakes every day before breakfast. The overriding message I’m getting, though, is not that actors expect you to be perfect, but that they want to be treated with respect and dignity, and are happy to forgive you if you apologize sincerely for your mistakes.
Also of course, every actor is different. What one actor finds odious is perfectly fine for another actor. Talk to your actors and listen to what they have to say. Do your best to create an environment where your actors aren’t afraid to come to you with issues. Ask questions. Use your actor friends as a resource if you’re unsure. Communication is key.