A Pass on Passing

This week: “The road you didn’t take hardly comes to mind… does it?”

My recent auditions-by-appointment for the Barter Theatre were a cause for celebration and sad reflection. The reason for this double-edged casting sword? George W. Bush.

For the first time, ever since I began casting nearly two decades ago, not one actor passed on an audition-by-appointment for lack of interest. None. Nada. Zip. I’ve been involved with casting for Broadway, major film studios, television projects and regional theater and always the actor pass rate averages 1 to 2 percent per project. Actors pass on the opportunity to audition for reasons ranging from; they didn’t want to work, didn’t like the project or they were just being flakes. The latter a far too common ailment within this business (on either side of the table).

So here I was. Finally having all appointments called out and given a one hundred percent confirm rate by agents. I wish I could celebrate. But how can one celebrate desperation brought upon by what I refer to our present economy as the Bush Legacy.

I find it sad that fear has caused actors to do their job. Accept auditions for which they are available. The offer of potential work being passed upon by actors has always pissed me off. I never understood the mentality. Especially among the represented thespian set who pass on an opportunity that may bring new career connections, an additional credit on the resume, exposure and oh… yes, a paycheck.

When actors in the past would pass on a paying project of mine I took it personally (I’ve been accused of being too sensitive and if you tell anyone, I’ll slap you silly).  But yes, I’ve been dejected for being rejected. I soon got over myself. I wasn’t being rejected. The passing, available actors were refusing an opportunity by being short-sighted, lazy or both. They were hurting their careers, not mine. And while I no longer take passes personal I won’t deny that I do get a bit of “I-told-you-so” satisfaction when I run into an unemployed actor who passed on one of my projects that is either in rehearsal or production when our run-in happens.

Karma and a gay man can both be bitches.

To those not represented who read this blog, all this may seem unbelievable that actors pass on opportunities of paid employment within their chosen profession (and by paid, I mean a living wage). I thought so too when I was an actor. But it happens. Often. And more so as actors believe themselves to be a bigger name than they really are within the industry. Now those same big-headed actors are begging to take regional theater or day player jobs. Just goes to show that survival will make one do the most sensible of choices.

I’m delighted that no one passed on the recent appointments. I’m not at all thrilled that George W. Bush and Wall Street brought reason to what should be normal; actors willing to accept opportunities for employment. Maybe my father, a devout Republican actually is right in being Right. Oh good God no. Next!

Post Script: I cursed myself. Damn it. After years at this game of entertainment I know better than to announce or write about anything  until final curtain or paycheck; whichever comes first.

I wrote the above blog weeks ago, the weekend prior to going into auditions. On my voice mail the night before the auditions were messages that three actors canceled their confirmed appointments. Each, through their individual representation, gave the same reason for backing out at the last minute; they wanted to stay in town (i.e. NY) for potential projects that may come up. Really?! In the dead of summer? The most activity in July and August in a NY casting office is an intern taking an hour to open five actor submissions (interns seem to loose all cogitative skills when challenged with opening actor mail).

O.K. let’s look past my being peeved at being left with three holes in my schedule. Those three coveted slots (competition and time was tight) could have gone to three actors I had on my hold list.  But the passes came too late. At this moment there could be an unemployed actor out there who could have been seen in one of those slots and who aced the audition and would now have gainful employment for the next few months (plus health insurance weeks). To that unknown, thank your passing, procrastinating  peers for an opportunity lost.

So, the record remains unbroken. Hundreds upon hundreds of projects I’ve cast from film to TV to Broadway to regional theater and not one of those projects went without at least one person passing. Grrrrrrrr.

Actors desperate for work? Ha! I sometimes muse if that’s a myth.

[The LAST July One-on-One Career & Audition Technique Coaching begins this week. Get it before someone else does @ Classes.]

My Best,

Paul Russell Casting
SDC Director | Author, ACTING: Make It Your Business


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