The Director’s In the Room: EPAs and Why They Need to Be Taken More Seriously.

It’s a rare moment when the director, composer, and actual casting director are in the room during auditions. It’s even more rare that those three people would show up to an open call. The other day, friends of mine auditioned for the Broadway bound musical, It Shoulda Been You. At the EPA (Equity Principal Auditions), an open call for members of the Actors’ Equity Association, it is unusual for there to be anyone else in the room but an assistant of the casting director, or their associate. There’s something to be said for the fact that Tara Rubin herself attended the EPA, along with director and well-respected actor, David Hyde Pierce. 

At EPAs, I’ve  found myself auditioning more times than not for an associate or assistant of the casting director listed in the details for the call. Sometimes, it’s an intern. Every once in a while, it’s the actual casting director.The shift that took place last week was a great one. Having David Hyde Pierce and Tara Rubin in the room gave more validation to the process of open calls.

As actors, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. There seems to be a laid back and lax attitude towards open calls by casting and theater professionals. I’ve walked into rooms where the person behind the table seems to be completely checked out. I’ve had someone talking on the phone as I was auditioning, texting, or frankly, not paying attention. Whether it’s my fault or not, I don’t know. All I know is that I’m nervous, and I want to do a good job and make an impression. I want to get a callback. I want to show off what I can do, because I love to act. I want a moment to show what I have to offer. But they forget that we are professionals too.  Because EPAs are open calls, anyone who is a member of the union can show up for an appointment. It doesn’t mean that we are any less talented than those who have appointments through agents or are called in by casting people themselves. 

The process of EPAs is something that needs to have more weight. They need to be just as important as being called into the casting office. We need to be able to have respect for each other as actors. Casting professionals, directors and theaters need to have respect for actors and for our audition process too. We respect you when you respect us. It goes hand in hand. We are all nervous: Casting director, actor, accompanist. As actors, we put ourselves on the line everyday. We hear “No” everyday. We just want a chance to get in the room. EPAs are our chance to open doors. Thank You David Hyde Pierce and Tara Rubin for showing up and respecting actors. We are grateful for your support. Thank You for letting us know that open calls matter–that you were in the room too. 

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