I have heard Clark (Nicholson, artistic director of Gamut) say that a director’s most important job is casting well. Do that bit right, he says, and your job is more than half done. I believe him.
I believe him even more now.
Casting is super hard when you’re a big indecisive softie like me who wants to work with everyone and just make beautiful theatre all the hours of the day. But it’s also incredibly interesting how being on the other side of the casting table bears out something I’ve told myself (and my friends and my children and anyone who would listen) for years.
Sometimes you don’t get the part even when you’re the most awesome actor (dancer, singer) in the room. Sometimes you don’t get the part because you didn’t fit the costume.
That’s not about literally fitting a costume (although I bet sometimes it is). It’s about how you fit into the overall look of the play, or how tall you are relative to some other actor, or how old you look, or what your innate energy is like, or your look, or a hundred other factors that are not within your control. I mean, my short little self was never EVER going to play the long-legged, beanpole Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, even if they could have scraped up a 4’10” actor to play Hermia. I don’t fit the Helena costume.
On the other hand, sitting on this side of the casting table reminded me of something terribly important that good, prepared actors must do at every audition and callback. Actors must show the director different facets of themselves. They must show range. Because the more range they show, the more likely it is that a director will see that you can actually squeeze into some costume or other even if you are two inches too short or five years too old or ten degrees too chirpy.
On the other other hand, we now have a fabulous cast for Gallathea, and I am so excited to get things started.