How to Get a Role in a Great Production - Part II
Volunteer to help out
If it's truly important for you to act with a particular company, you may have to begin off-stage, as a volunteer. I'm not suggesting that you enslave yourself to a theater, just that you offer to help out a bit in order to make yourself known. Also, it will give you a chance to get to know the people in the company, and for them to get to know you. If the company has a play running, ask the ticket seller whom to contact about getting involved. Or call a contact number listed at a website or in the program.
Be specific in your offers
Ironically, most theaters or film production companies are too busy to accept offers of help. After all, it takes organization, administration, and training to be able to effectively use a volunteer. So make it as easy as possible for them. Keep an eye out and make a specific offer. "I noticed that at your last benefit party, your bartender was overworked. I can help out from 10pm to midnight at the next one." Or, "If you need someone to help paint the set, I'm available on Saturday afternoon." For instance, at our website, www.inversetheater.com, you will find a detailed list of our activities and ways of getting involved.
Let the decision-maker know your aims
Your goal, of course, is to get a role in the play, not to sell raffle tickets. So find out who casts the plays (producer, director, casting director), and let them know that while you enjoy helping, you are ultimately interested in acting.
Show your stuff
Few companies will cast you if they haven't seen your work. So invite the above mentioned "decision-makers" to any shows you may be in, or, even easier, ask for an audition whenever the company holds them. Even if you're not appropriate for the part, ask for an opportunity to do a monologue so they can see you perform. Chances are very high you'll be accommodated.
Here's an important fact about human nature: People, especially casting directors, are risk averse. In other words, they are terrified about taking a chance on an unknown actor. Who knows if their knock-out audition was a fluke? If they can work in an ensemble? If they'll show up for rehearsal? This is why, when we sit down to cast smaller parts, we first choose from those we know, like, and trust. If you didn't bomb in your audition, if people in the company like you, and you've proven reliable, it's not unlikely you'll eventually be offered a small role. Another scenario, which happens quite often, is the emergency "oh-my-god-we-just-lost-our-Rosencrantz-what-do-we-do!?" situation. In these cases, when there's no time for a new round of auditions, you just might get a call.
Once you're given a chance, now all you have to do is impress. It's unlikely that the above strategy will land you a leading role, but if you perform well, you may be offered a larger part next time.
Best of luck in all of your theatrical endeavors!
By Chad Gracia
Executive Director of Inverse Theater Company