Recently, there was a minor kerfuffle in our little Seattle hamlet over auditor responses following the Theatre Puget Sound Unified General Auditions. Every year, TPS graciously arranges a week-long cattle-call audition for local actors (Equity and non-Equity) to introduce or re-introduce themselves to local casting directors, agents, and freelance directors. Every year, the Generals also sends out a survey to the auditors so that they can comment how to make things better for next year, and also to highlight some specific concerns for actors. These things are supposed to be helpful tidbits for actors, and some of them are. Most of them are contradictory and some of them are, well. Bad. Really bad. The responders this year made a few choice comments about female-identified actors that shook some dust-up.
Shane Regan, one of the wonderful talents in our community and also the organizer of TPS Generals (as well as the Gregory Awards) and all around nice person, posted the collected responses to his Facebook page where I first took notice. I was not the only one, but the conversation spiraled from there into setting up a podcast discussion with Katie Woodzick on Theatrical Mustang. She gathered myself, Shane, L. Nicol Cabe, and Rachel Delmar to discuss the issues brought up by the auditors. If you’d like to listen to the podcast go here.
To read the full selection of comments made by the auditors, read here. Most them are harmless and what you’d expect. (Funny story, no one could figure out the exit so that’s the majority of the comments.)
And here are some of the comments that made me angry.
What were the most common mistakes made by actors this year?
“Too many female monologues revolving around sex, dating, and relationships. It would be great to see a less sexualized selection of work from female artists.”
What were the most overused pieces, playwrights, plays, done by female actors?
“As always, Helena, Hermia and Juliet.”
“breakup tirades. Not funny. Just hostile.”
“I would like to see young female actors stop playing whining victims. If you are going to do it – then remember to show some strength. Vulnerability is great but what is more interesting is showing women of strength. That gets my attention.”
“Topics of: dating, sex, relationships”
General comments you wish to make to actors who may want to do the general auditions in the future.
“Don’t dress in provocative clothing and expect sex to get you a job.This goes for choice of pieces, too.”
“Wear clothes that you can move in. We are not looking for people who look glamorous, we want to see artists who can use their instruments effectively and with intention. Teetering on heels serves no purpose.”
So, yeah. There’s a lot to unpack here. The whole podcast deals with these issues and I’d encourage you to listen.