One of the things we all learn from being involved in the performing arts is resilience. No matter how good you are, you won’t get every role you go for, and learning to deal with that disappointment is paramount to maintaining your mental health and not losing self confidence or self worth. The horrible wait for a casting call after the stress on an audition is bad enough, but what if you didn’t get the role you wanted?
The first thing to remember is that just because you didn’t get the role you wanted, doesn’t mean you weren’t good enough! Casting involves more than just a judgment of singing and acting. There are a myriad of considerations, and just because you weren’t right for that role in this production, doesn’t mean you wouldn’t right in another production, or that you aren’t absolutely perfect for another role.
So what is taken into consideration?
This is in no way a comprehensive list, but below are 3 of the most common factors outside your abilities as a singer and actor, that influence casting.
- Director’s Vision
Every director has a vision that they are trying to put on stage. That vision goes beyond the voices, so singing will only be one of the considerations. Likewise with acting, you may be a great actor, but that doesn’t mean you fit the director’s vision. A director may want people of a certain age, a certain height or more generally to have a certain ‘look’. Everybody is different and your unique qualities will show in your performance. Just because you don’t fit the current director’s vision says nothing about your skill or the quality of your performance.
- Who else auditioned
When casting a show the greatest limitation is who auditioned. The director may be limited in who they can cast in one role, and that can impact on who they can cast in other roles. For example, there may only be only one person who can do a role and that role has an onstage partner. If one has to be played by someone in their 50’s, it’s not usually possible to have their partner played by someone in their teens. Sure, in Hollywood they have amazing makeup teams that make people look whatever age they want, but our budget doesn’t quite stretch to that. Height can also be a factor, such as in casting the children in The Sound of Music. When the children line up it is generally desired for them to have heights that increase with age. You may have the perfect voice and attitude to play Gretel, but it won’t really work if you’re taller that the actor playing Leisel.
- Past experience
Amateur shows generally don’t have understudies, so a director needs to know that they can rely on who they cast. Just because you have never done a show before doesn’t mean you can’t be relied on, but directors maybe wary of giving a lead role to someone with no previous experience. That doesn’t mean you can’t get good roles until you have a lot of experience, but it does mean that your first or second shows may be in the ensemble. Directors are also likely to have seen many of the local shows of other companies and have experienced the performances of some of those who have auditioned. The upshot is, get yourself out there! Doing as many shows as you can not only builds your resume and gives you invaluable performance experience, but it gives you the opportunity to show people, who you may one day be auditioning for, how great you are on stage.
This is just a small list, there are probably as many factors as there are directors casting shows. The important thing is to remember that not everything to do with you being cast is in your control. Don’t feel disheartened or discouraged and please don’t ever feel like you aren’t good enough. Casting isn’t simply a judgement of you as a performer, it’s a complex weave of many factors.