Am I being too picky?

I seem to have a reputation…

I don’t mean it in a bad way.  At least it isn’t a bad one at the moment.  However, if this trend keeps up it may be a curse…

I am a huge Arts cheerleader!  I always want people’s creative endeavors to succeed.  That includes companies as well.  It’s always hard when you walk away disappointed from a production that didn’t have what you were hoping it would.  Being the cheerleader that I am, I used to always be eager to help out when needed.  I would work it out so that I can be of some assistance to someone somewhere.

For the second time this year, I have already been offered a featured bit in a show that I didn’t audition for. Both offers were for song and dance roles.  The first, I couldn’t take because it would interfere too much with my 9-5.  And since they have always been to incredible to me, I figured sacrificing a few months to commit to the nursery  was the least that I could do.

So when something like this happens, the offers, that is, I look at a couple of things.  I like to see what it is that I am getting myself into.  I mean, a few years ago, I would have said, sure no problem and pitched in.  Now, I am trying to put together a quality body of work and I want to break outside of the casting mold that I seem to fit so snugly into.  Part of that requires that I think more carefully about what I commit to.

First, I look at the show.   Is it something that I know?  If not, I read about it and try and find the soundtrack, if it’s a musical, and/or script.  I see if I like it.  Is it something that I can see myself not getting bored with?  Will by the third week I begin to feel like “Oh gawd, I don’t wanna go to rehearsal.” ?   If so, then that puts an end to the search for my answer. However, if I am excited about the role/script, then I proceed to the next level.

Second, I look at the creative staff.  The Director, Choreographer, Music/Vocal Director(s), Stage Manager, and the Producer.  Have I worked with each one before?  If so, what was my experience like?  If not, am I familiar with their works?  What was my gut reaction to their works?  Instinct it the best decision maker when you are ever in a jam.  My problem is that I am such a cheerleader that I will overlook my gut reaction and pay the price later.  But I am not here to be negative.  So let’s move on…   Whilst I have been so terrible about keeping everything written down, like I promised that I would, I do keep my ears open about who’s doing what and what others thought.  It’s important to learn not only from my own mistakes, but also others, if I can.  If I have a gut feeling about any of the above, I step away from the project.  If I am happy with the people, I check out one more thing…

I lastly look at the company.  What’s their reputation like?  Do they have quality productions?  Do I have  a history with them?  If so, what’s that like?  If not, what’s the word on how they treat their actors?  There’s nothing worse that joining a company only to find that the work you put into the production, on your own time, is not appreciated, or worse, completely ignored.  Thus making the production less about a collaboration and more about “do what you’re told” vibe.  That’s the crappiest way to experience a theatre.

As I said before, I sadly declined the first offer because I wanted to focus on the nursery.  This second offer was different.  I looked at my list above, checked my gut feelings, and I have to decline once again.  I feel just awful about doing so, but if I am not going to be at my best, I would be a hinderance to their production.  That serves neither the show nor myself.

The hard part is actually telling the people that you are going to pass on their production.  Especially if you like the company.   This is where my fear comes in.  Because I’ve now turned down a second offer, will I begin  to get a different reputation?  I’ve never been one to act like a snob or ego-centric because I feel like that puts an actor at an arm’s distance from the audience when an actor should want to connect wholeheartedly with them.  Will people now think of me as “acting as though I am better than…”?

Here’s to hoping that I haven’t burned any bridges.

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