For thirteen seasons, these four simple guidelines have served as my house rules for my work on manhattantheatresource and Estrogenius Festival endeavors. I’ve consistently found them excellent rules for conducting your professional, artistic life. It’s been my experience that the people who live easily by these tenants work often and seem to be the ones bringing the most to the creative table. Here are a few examples of how you can apply them in your own auditions and bookings.
1. Principles Before Personalities. (aka Check Your Ego at the Door.) At auditions, I always try to remember that all of the actors there are capable of booking the job. There’s no talent shortage. Treat your fellow performers and casting and studio staff with respect. Your drama is not their drama. If you’re late or have some issue, briefly apologize or explain and keep your focus on the work. If you absolutely must take or make a call, do so out of the studio, rehearsal room, or waiting area. That sounds like common sense, but sadly, I’ve overheard more intrusive, angry calls to nannies and agents at auditions and rehearsals than I can count. We’ve all worked with people who behave as though they’re the most important person in the room. It hampers collaboration and rarely leads to good work.
2. Share Your Information. This rule puzzles some people who think it means helping the competition. I see it more as building professional karma. If a casting director gives a note, suggests a prototype, or has a video to watch, let your fellow auditionees know. Share information about opportunities with colleagues you respect. If not you, wouldn’t it be preferable the job go to someone you admire? Sharing information elevates everyone’s work and your colleagues are likely to return the favor.
3. Practice Generosity of Spirit. Treat others as you would like to be treated. I’ve seen actors trying to psyche each other out in audition waiting rooms, and frankly it just makes them look insecure. Let your talent lead, not your snark, bitterness, or fear. There’s also an obvious, practical, career reason to treat everyone with generosity of spirit. Receptionists become agents. Monitors become casting directors. Performers are frequently also directors or writers. You never know whose path you might cross. Strive for your ability and professionalism to be what is remembered most about you.
4. Clean Up After Yourself: This holds true literally and figuratively. Throw out your trash. Use recycling bins. Put the copy back where you found it. If you like to mark your sides, try to do it in pencil and erase it so the next person doesn’t have to work around your notations. If you lose your cool or let your nerves get the better of you, admit it and apologize. Avoid leaving a mess, physically or emotionally.
Ultimately, these house rules work because they make the creative experience better for everyone involved. Generous collaboration makes the work stronger. You haven’t chosen an easy path. Juggling auditions, bookings, families, and often survival jobs can take a toll. When you get the chance to be creative, focus on the work and not the drama. You may just see more career opportunities opening up for you.
Fiona Jones, actor/writer/producer, is fortunate to work with amazing, imaginative agents at CESD. She's the proud founder of NYC's Estrogenius Festival now in its 13th season & she serves as Creative Director for Dream Out Loud Media.