Continuing our season of auditions at Artistree, casting can be my most and least favorite part of producing a show. I love seeing what my students bring to the table–the choices they make, the performances that surprise me and the work they put into each and every role. But inevitably, there can only be one person in each part and because of that, disappointment is bound to ensue. And while disappointment is completely natural, how you deal with it can make or break your experience in a show.
I tell my students that if you are not happy with your part, you are allowed to put a picture of my face on your wall and throw darts or tomatoes at it for 24 hours. Feel your feelings–get mad, be sad and own what’s inside you. But after that, it’s time to take a breath, shake it off and be part of the ensemble. Thank your director for the part you did receive and if you are curious, ask what you could have done differently or what you could be working on. (This should come from the student, NOT the parent.) Be gracious and be open. Some of the most fun and certainly some of the most educational moments in my theater career took place when I was NOT the lead. But that’s because I was open to the experience before me. There is so much to be gained by being an active participant in the storytelling. Every single person in a show is like a puzzle piece. And just like when one piece of the puzzle is gone and you see a gaping hole, when one person isn’t fully invested in the play, you see the hole. So, actors–DON’T BE THE HOLE!
I find that another huge component of how my students deal with disappointment in casting is how parents react–especially in my younger students. Everyone wants to be Annie. But somebody has to be Sandy. If you, as a parent, dwell on what your child DIDN’T get, then that’s the attitude they will have. On the flip side, if you approach whatever role your child gets as an amazing opportunity to learn more about theater, have a BLAST and do what they love, then they’re more likely to “get over it” pretty quickly.
As I have said before, theater kids make the most resilient adults, because they learn to deal with this disappointment thing early on. And your help, as a parent, can help them figure it out even faster. And at the end of the day, if they are happy, then we’ve all done our jobs.