Ok, I don’t have a job but good Lord (Webber) I’m allowed to moan!
This week’s annoyance, bar the constant riffing emanating from the Mamma Mia! stage door, is the ever-frustrating stubbornness of casting directors to ever see a hard-working, talented performer as anything other than their CV. As my ex-boyfriend used to say to me, “Size isn’t everything, let me show you what I can do!” He’d then cry fro 45 minutes, but that’s another story….
Now, unless you graduated from The Amanda Holden School of Musical Theatre, your ability as a musical theatre performer to act, dance and sing should be pretty honed by now. Failing that, as a deeply inward-thinking actor with a penchant for Brecht, your skills in verse and iambic pentameter should be as practiced as your ability to look deep inside yourself without the aid of a mirror on a stick. However, whether you’re as impressive as Dame Judi Dench or Dame Michael Ball, there is one thing that matters the most: your CV.
When I call my agent for our hourly chat, he repeatedly tells me that I will not get seen for the upcoming musical hit of the year due to my lack of West End credits. I’m pretty sure it’s due to the fact he thinks he can receive e-mails on his typewriter, but what do I know? Are casting directors really so closed-minded that they will not even attempt to audition people who have not yet had their break and made it to the West End or appeared in a number one tour?! We also fight a constant battle with where we trained. In musical theatre land there are three or four drama schools that will get you through the door for most castings – and if your head of department happens to be the director of one of those shows, then consider yourself cast!
OK, I know that this is a saturated industry and there are more actors trying to get through the door than Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses combined. I also know that a straight actor wouldn’t get seen for Cats, but then neither can I – sending my cat to the casting director’s door with my CV didn’t do the trick. The ability to dance is more based on fact: you can either do a triple pirouette or you can’t (and if you went to RADA you probably can’t). This is what CVs are for, for making an informed decision as to who is more likely to fit each production, not for deciding who’s the best, that’s what auditions are for!
When you haven’t been given the chance to build up your CV, you are destined to be thrown down a whirlpool of rejection, empty diary pages and the remains of a shredded CV and that’s it (until you fluke that West End credit or give it all up to become a primary school teacher in Kent).
The way I see it, the training and most recent credit on your CV are not always a guide to your ability but more of a snobbish guideline for a lazy, list-making casting director. One with no passion for discovering new talent or spreading their options further than this year’s graduating flock from the best-looking drama school in Chiswick… I mean, London.
Now, before you start sending me snotty tweets, I am not just jealous. I am not putting down people who are working and doing well. I am also not slagging off all casting directors, but wouldn’t it be nice if just once, instead of drawing upon long lists of performers they’ve cast and worked with before, creative teams found some new talent with enthusiasm, dedication and an empty-yet-promising CV.
If all else fails, I’ll do with my CV what I do with my crying ex-boyfriend - fake it and hope nobody notices.
Much love all,