I run the Casting Director Workshops, a division of David Goldyn Productions. I would like to address some of California Department Industrial Relations attorney Thomas Kerrigan's concerns about casting director workshops ["CD Workshops Fight Ruling," BSW 3/28/02].
Ironically, I started the casting director workshops because I went to a "showcase" in town five years ago where I performed a scene. The casting director said, "Very good," and collected my resumé. I went home feeling raped of my money—feeling as if I had paid for a bogus audition with no input. I understand actors' frustration about workshops. This very frustration caused me to open my business.
As a certified New York state teacher with an M.A. in theatre education, I knew my workshops were going to be different. Each and every casting director was supplied with this lesson plan to make the experience an educational one:
A. Teaching Goals: To help actors to improve their auditioning skills.
1. Enhance the actor's ability to create his privacy in public (which is the actor's job).
2. Deal with nerves in front of producers, casting directors, and powers that be.
3. Learn that what you bring to the role is the reason you are cast.
4. If you worry about what "they" want, you give your power away.
B. Performance Objective: Finding flaws in auditions.
1. Is actor creating his privacy in public?
2. Is the actor believable in the role?
3. Is the actor castable?
C. Instructional Procedures.
1. The casting director talks about himself, his background, how he got where he is. This will show the actor that the casting director is a real person with a real journey, and put the actor at ease in front of the casting director. Without this process a great actor can blow an audition simply because of nerves.
2. The casting director gives out audition material. The students will have approximately half an hour to 45 minutes to work on the material.
3. The student will perform the material either with another actor or read one-on-one with the casting director. Everyone watches the process.
4. The casting director will say whether the performance would warrant a callback and will explain why.
5. The casting director will then redirect the scene showing how to enhance the audition so that the actor can better create his privacy in public.
6. Question-and-answer session with students and casting director.
7. Evaluation Procedure: The casting director will meet one-on-one with each actor for 2-3 minutes, time permitting. He will be open to questions by the actor and will evaluate the actor's performance in terms of castability.
I couldn't agree with Kerrigan more: Of course actors shouldn't pay to audition. They should pay to learn. They should pay to improve their auditions. They should pay to get rid of feelings of nervousness and inadequacy in front of the powers that be. Learning is what is outlined above. Learning is the goal.
Years ago I had major audition anxiety. I was a good actor, but put me in an audition situation in front of casting directors/producers and I was a nervous wreck—all acting technique flew out the window. Workshops in a safe, non-audition situation in front of casting directors enabled me to conquer my nerves and realize that my job was to create my privacy in public. It made me realize that getting nervous was giving my power away.
Kerrigan is right to question how workshops advertise. Let me explain why I and my colleagues advertise the way we do. When actors call, they don't ask me what they will learn; they ask, "How many people book work per month? Are these real casting directors? What do they cast? Are you sure they are legit?" Imagine hearing that 50 times a day, five times a week. Of course we're going to advertise that our casting directors cast major shows like Will & Grace and ER. Of course we are going to advertise that 25-30 actors per month are called in to audition—because they are. I thought there was freedom of speech in this country. It shouldn't be illegal to tell actors the truth.
These workshops are educational tools to help actors. They are the friend of the actor, not the enemy. We are the actors' connection when all other doors are closed. Why any actor would want to shut down a wonderful educational possibility, as well as a networking possibility, is beyond my comprehension.
Casting Director Workshops