I have had the opportunity to go to a few EPAs in the past few weeks, and been really lucky. I got seen! At each one!
See, that’s what we say when we actually get to be in the audition room at an Equity Principal Audition: I got seen. Because if you’re EMC like me, or Non-Equity like others, the likelihood that you’ll actually get in front of a casting team is completely dependent on how many Equity actors show up for the call. So you hope (and pray) that someone will not show up for their appointment, or that the monitor will decide to make a mini-group between audition slots so that you can be seen.
And this whole idea got me thinking about the human condition. (Hey, I’m an actress. It’s kind of my job to explore what it means to be human.) And I realized the following:
We all want to be seen. I don’t mean in a flashy, center-of-attention way. I mean in an empathetic way. We want to be able to show people our true selves, and be accepted and understood. I think it is something that is totally human, and I imagine that anyone reading this is nodding in agreement, but I see it manifested often in my acting and theatre circles, so it is from that place that I write.
Last month, I had the pleasure to attend a day full of theatre with 3 staged readings of new plays in various stages of development, as well as a fully staged production of a new play with the same cast of actors. I was lucky enough to get to participate in the day as a Concessions person, so was able to join the cast in their post-show celebration immediately following the final curtain. One actress in particular took it upon herself to start toasts, and she made a point of toasting each cast member individually, as well as the director/playwright, after which other people toasted her, as well as the Front of House Team (myself included). It was a truly special moment for each of us, as we were acknowledged for our effort in the productions. I could feel the joy in the room as this cast, who had worked so hard together for 2 months, celebrated each other and their art. I realize that this sounds suspiciously like Participation Trophies, but I promise it’s not. A participation trophy is awarded to you simply for being in the game, so you don’t feel so bad that your team lost. These toasts were acknowledgments of the person’s work, not a consolation prize.
I also happen to be about halfway through a class at Shakespeare Forum, wherein we begin each class with a check-in: Where is your head today? What do you need to get rid of in order to be mentally present in class today? I have found that it really helps all of us to get focused on the next three hours, and get to know our classmates in a unique way. I think we all feel comfortable being completely honest with each other, without needing to reveal too much about our personal lives if we don’t want to.
I have gone to many auditions over the years, and gotten many nos, a number of yeses, and more radio-silences than I can count. I have also gotten responses that were along the lines of “I really wanted to cast you, but because of _______ I wasn’t able to. Please come and audition for our next show, because I really want to work with you.” And those responses are the ones that stick with me. They saw me. They recognized me. And that’s the most validating feeling in the world. In each of these settings, I’ve had the opportunity to be seen by others, whether it’s a casting team, a teacher, or a classmate, and it feels really good to know that I am seen. I also hope that I have helped others to feel seen. I hope I am someone who others know values the things they say about themselves.
I encourage you, friends, to really see your fellow humans. Your coworkers, your neighbors, your friends, your family. Especially those people you know who are artists or entrepreneurs. We, especially, need to know that our efforts are being seen. And if you are one of those creative types, please know that I see you, and I appreciate the work you do.