Technology in the Audition Room

Technology in the Audition Room
Wednesday pet peeve...

I begin with this: students of mine, feel free to take my name off your resume if you feel my words will get in your way. I understand!!! But I believe this needs to be addressed and as this is a forum for my observations, I am going ahead and taking it.

The audition room is a space in which artists in development and developed artists are able to present themselves for a job, in front of people who are in casting in some form or other who are in charge for whatever reason, of hiring said artist.  

We often know very little about these casting people - where they come from, what their background and expertise is, but, we as artists, prepare/study/develop craft and throw ourselves out there in front of these people.

Now, don't misunderstand me - there are some legitimately talented, knowledgeable and humane casting people in our business.  However, there are many who are not.  This is a fact. Just as there are many who are auditioning who should perhaps find something else to do, so there are just as many sitting at that table that need to find another job more fitting to their "strengths"...

How can you legitimately stand in judgement of talent in front of you if you have not been on stage? If you have not studied and know the discipline and craft of theatre? If you know nothing about how a voice is built? How a character develops? How to use vocabulary specific to theatre, acting, and voice and music properly? Just asking...

We have all heard the horror stories, and in many cases, experienced them - of being in that audition room and being summarily ignored - no one looks at you, acknowledges you, talks through your audition, gets up and walks around, or is on the phone the entire time.

Now we have entered a new technology:  the computer in the audition room.  Casting people are IMing, on facebook, and now, twittering about what they are seeing and hearing and commenting during an audition process!

Where is the line?!  What is the point?!

Perhaps if you were actually paying attention and creating a safe space for an artist to create those few moments, you would get a much more authentic audition and a stronger sense of what that artist could do.  Perhaps you might learn something!

This appalls me.  It angers me. It disgusts me. If performers and artists were not auditioning, there would be no "show business" and casting/agents would not have work to do.  We are dependent on each other.  We are each other's necessary evil aren't we?!  

So what happened to a superficial courtesy?! At least look as if you are interested even if you aren't! At least look as if you know something about what is going on even if you don't!

This shows lack of respect, lack of professionalism, courtesy and frankly a complete disregard to the process of auditioning.

Just as I have said to emerging artists and wannabe performers  - "learn your craft - develop it! Live it! Be it!"  and if you just wanna be "famous" do it somewhere else, I say to the casting director/intern - whoever you are or whoever you think you are:

"Know what you are there to do! Learn YOUR craft! Learn the craft you are assuming to make judgement on! Learn how to treat people the way you would want to be treated! Develop a sense of ethic and morality that shows LEADERSHIP and PROFESSIONALISM - and if you cannot - please, get another desk job."

We need to support those casting directors who show empathy, reality, true talent and true professionalism.  We need to support those casting directors who GET THE PROCESS, who understand art in business, who recognize real talent, who don't make excuses, who are about SOMETHING REAL.  

The rest of them are making the process murky and giving the business a bad name.  Shame on them.  Grow up and be a professional! If you are demanding professionalism from the people who stand in front of you, then demand the same from yourself and your staff.  DEMAND a simple competence.  Heaven forbid we all actually can enter a room with certain level of knowledge and development instead of ignorance and rude behavior.

Knowledge is power.  Rudeness is stupidity. Our business deserves more - from BOTH sides of the table.  

edited to add: Freedom of speech is NOT the issue.  EVERYBODY in that audition room - and I MEAN EVERYBODY is accountable.  If you cannot respect the process and give it its due, you have NO BUSINESS being in the room.  ON EITHER SIDE OF THE TABLE!

Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking. 

If you liked this post, please share it or comment with your thoughts below!