About this series:
These entries are taken from my article “Don’t Call Us — We’ll Call You.” It is a tongue-in-cheek survey of actors’ silly mistakes that should never have been made. Your comments are welcome, but PLEASE don’t comment “that’s dumb” or “everybody knows that” because I have personally seen these mistakes cost actors (sometimes even professional actors) roles.
YOU WERE LATE. We make the schedules for our performances, rehearsals and auditions available months (usually a full year!) in advance. Why is it that 20 minutes into our audition call, after we have already welcomed everyone and have begun to see and hear the many other actors who chose to be prompt, you arrive and expect to be given equal time and attention by our staff? It doesn’t matter your talent level or the excuse– all we can think is “will this actor be late to rehearsals as well? And what about performances?” Also See “You Displayed Bad Manners.”
Oh, dear– Never, never, NEVER be late to an audition. Unless you arrive in an ambulance, I would say it is better to turn around and go home than to arrive late to an audition. It is usually better for your reputation to miss that call than to arrive late. I say USUALLY because, of course, there are exceptions to every rule (Perhaps you were mugged at gunpoint at the front door when you arrived early, but they knocked you out and you just “came to.” Perhaps the Tech Director was walking through the lobby right before the audition and asked you to help him as he was having a heart attack. Please note that all these instances required you to have been actually on time to the call.)
I don’t think I need to go into the spiel about how tight the rehearsal schedule usually is and that every minute counts. Having an actor arrive late to a rehearsal– or even (shudder!) a performance– makes any director and stage manager throw up a little in their mouths. Remember that an audition is set up to get as close to a performance situation as possible, to see how each actor responds to the circumstance and to see what choices are made or not made. You chose to allow yourself to be late to the audition.
I know this seems rather harsh. You ask: wouldn’t a theatre rather see a person who is truly perfect for the part, that happens to come late? What if nobody else can play the part as well? What if this tardiness was an isolated incident and it will never happen again? I ask: What if a pig could fly? Let me set something straight based upon my 50+ years on this earth and 30+ years of intense study of human behavior: The Theatre is beholding to no one. Nobody is perfect for a role. There is ALWAYS somebody else who can play a given part. And, rarely is any behavior an isolated incident (unless it involves Martians or the actual hand of God).
Do yourself a favor by getting back into your car, taking a deep breath, figure out WHY you were late (habitual tardiness, inferiority complex, superiority complex, laziness, inability to tell time, etc.) and fixing it so it never happens again– and just coming to the NEXT audition.
This advice is definitely for professional actors. As far as my advice for amateur (community theatre, school theatre, etc) actors, I personally wouldn’t take the chance to blacken your reputation. Coming in late to an audition and giving an excuse…. And woe be unto you if you end up using a bogus excuse– and you are found out.