Practices, Principles, and Jumping Through Hoops

“Dogs enjoy jumping through hoops. People don’t.” -Dan Rockwell

I often hear of the practice that so many theatre companies have adopted regarding the requirement that everyone, no matter the skill level, lines on a resume, or history with the company — everyone must audition for every show.

Having been behind the audition table, I completely understand this policy.

It makes certain that everyone in the production has chosen to be there and will give their fullest. It guarantees a sacrifice on the part of the actor (memorizing their monologue, learning the audition/call-back material, taking the time) that leads to buy in. It also eliminates any thought among the cast that there were any free lunches. Everyone earned their spot on the stage.

It also gives opportunity for everyone behind the table to have discussion and reach full agreement on the casting. It avoids blindsiding a producer or director with casting that is finished and that they had no say in. It helps the production team maintain a united front, a front that will only serve and strengthen the show.

All of this makes sense to those behind the table.

The problem is, no one ever tells this to the actor.

The accomplished actor simply feels like they are jumping through hoops, or as we say, dancing for grandma.

Having been on both sides of the table, we as artists need to be more understanding of why we are being asked to audition. And we, as producing artists, need to be clearer as to why we are requiring the audition. (Even if it means pointing them to this blog post.)


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