There are only small actors

A public service message for people who audition for community theater productions: If you should receive a call from the producer of a production, offering you a role different from that for which you had wished, please remember these points:

1. The producer is not enjoying this task. She (let’s say it’s a she) wishes very much to be delivering the news you had hoped for: i.e., that you were cast in the lead. She can’t give you that message. She sympathizes with your disappointment. She feels awful.

2. The producer is not being paid for any of her work in this production. None. She’s giving up a nice Monday evening to call you and many other soon-to-be-disappointed thespians. She’s going to spend a whole lot of time in the next few weeks on this production not being paid, forgoing income-generating and non-income-generating-but-enjoyable adventures to create a little bit of Theatre with which to entertain the community. She will often wonder why she’s doing so, no more than when she faces tasks like calling you.

3. There are other roles in the play, good and important roles, and you have been selected above all others to play one of these roles. Every role is critical to the success of the show. She really wants you to take this role, because it will make the play as good as it can be.

4. Turning down a role that you don’t want is understandable. Someone else might be available, someone who will be pleased to have a chance on the stage, and sometimes it’s better to let that other person shine.

5. Taking a role you didn’t expect to be offered is cool. You can learn from doing such a thing. This might be your chance to shine in new ways.

6. Telling the producer that you’ve been living your wished-for role for months and that her show will suck is not cool.

7. Subsequently calling the theater and telling the director that he blew it by not casting you, and that your dad will not be in the show either because you were not given the role you wanted, and then hanging up on him, is extra not cool.

But let’s assume for the moment that you’re leaning toward the cool side.

8. If you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything for moment. Take a breath. If you feel you need a moment to think, say you’ll call back. (Make sure you know which number to call.) Walk around outside, splash some water on your face, scream. Splash more water. Then call back and say yes, you’d be happy to take the part.

I promise you’ll be glad you did.

Anyway. So, tonight we completed much of the casting of Romeo & Juliet at the Butler Little Theatre.

Given the makeup of the cast — two strong women’s roles, several strong young men’s roles, many small but important roles — and the profile of the Butler Little Theatre acting pool — many young women, few young men, some older folk who also happen to be parents of the young people who are most likely to go out for the play, and all of whom have varying degrees of talent and professionalism and ability to perform in a full-scale theater production — this was a difficult task.

I’m only the producer. In our theater the director holds almost all the control of a production. The producer does the footwork, chases people down, tracks expenses, etc. It’s more fun than I’m making it sound, at least sometimes. But there’s no power in it, and no glory.

Casting is not one of the fun times. Tonight was, in short, a bitch.

The good side is that from here out it’s easy. There’s lots to do, but I know the show will turn out well, that the process will be challenging but engaging, and that I’ll be proud of the result.