Recently I posted on The Book of Faces that I was considering writing a post about audition tips for theatres, and I was deluged with responses from actors: horror stories, pet peeves, constant annoyances, along with gratitude for moments of kindness, special consideration, and respect. I had comments both publicly, on the post itself, and privately, in messages and emails, by the tankful. Actors shared with me their ups and downs about the entire process, not just auditions, and it was quite an education. Going through them all, one thing stuck out to me immediately: No one is telling anyone else the truth about any of these things.
This is where I always come in, right? My brother likes to call this “career-limiting behavior.”
So here you go. The things actors are thinking but don’t ever tell you.
Note: I invented exactly none of this. Everything you see below comes directly from the actors themselves. And while I’m certain there will be actors who disagree (“What? I LOVE having to come in for 6 callbacks for a show that pays $250.”), I only included issues mentioned by multiple actors.
Also: This is for producers and directors, and I include myself in that (obviously). I’m in no way perfect and make mistakes all the time, so don’t think I’m castigating you from on high. I am but the messenger. I have many posts with advice for actors (this one, also this one, here’s another one, yet one more), so don’t worry– I’m an equal opportunity meddler.
Directors, we need to be realistic about callbacks. If you’re directing for a LORT and have big AEA contracts to give out, yes, you are entitled to three callbacks. If you’re working for a small theatre paying a $500 stipend for the whole shebang, you can bring the same actor back to see the same people once. You get a second callback if it’s significantly different from the first in the material covered or in the approach to it, or if the actors are there to be seen by different people (for example, a dance callback on a different day than the vocal callback). However, if you’re asking actors to come in for a second or third callback to do basically the same things for the same people they saw in the initial audition and first callback, some actors are starting to think you just don’t know what you’re doing, you don’t know what you want, or both. They start to wonder if working with you will be a good experience. You might want to address with actors specifically why you need to see them do the same stuff over again. Maybe having to articulate it will help you understand what the issue is, and might even guide you to making your decision without additional callbacks.
Another oft-cited problem with auditions in general and callbacks in particular is poor organization. This takes two forms: Disrespect for the actor’s time and disrespect for the actor’s preparation. When our callbacks are poorly organized, we run behind and end up making actors wait– sometimes even for hours– past their slot. Actors have time commitments just like anyone else– they need to get to work or pick their kids up from school or meet friends for dinner. If you told them they’d be there from 7-7:30PM and they’re still there at 9PM, you blew it. But wait! All is not lost! Did you apologize profusely for blowing it, or did you act like an entitled jerk? A sincere apology goes a LONG way.
Disrespect for the actor’s preparation often stems from running out of time. If you ask an actor to prep five sides, that’s a HELL OF A LOT OF SIDES. Actors will spend a significant chunk of time prepping that massive callback for you. If they get into the space and only get through 1 and 1/2 of those sides before you send them on their way, they are not happy. So be realistic about the amount of time you’ll need for each audition and the amount of material you’re giving each actor to prep. And again, a sincere apology when you blow it really goes a long way. Let’s face it: We all blow it sometimes.
Another pet peeve actors have about auditions is when directors ask them to perform material they haven’t been asked to prep. Again, a sincere apology goes a long way here, and there are always exceptions. An actor’s not going to get cross with you if you call him in to read for a small role and decide on the fly to have him read for the lead. But actors WILL get cross with you if you ask them to perform “something” from a show you see on their resume (“You mean the one I did five years ago? In college?”). Another pet peeve of actors is when directors ask for outlandish adjustments, such as asking them to perform the monologue they just did for you, but this time as a spider. If you know you’ll want actors to do improv work or extreme, unusual adjustments, tell them in advance. If you decide on the fly you want to see something unusual, be cool about it and understand that you’re asking a lot.
Cold reads are so problematic I’ve given them their own post. Send your sides out in advance.
What actors love about your audition: Being treated with respect and kindness. Free snacks (a simple bowl of mini Reese’s peanut butter cups was mentioned as an especially nice touch). Available water, bathrooms, and seating. Directors who pay attention during the monologue rather than text or eat. Directors who respond to an actor after the audition either way. An offer is always nice, but a timely release is appreciated as well, as difficult as they are to send.
We’re auditioning for the actor as much as the actor is auditioning for us. Think of it as a blind date.
Directors, you should probably know that a lot of actors don’t want to pretend their characters are animals, especially experienced actors who already have their own character creation processes developed over years of trial and error. Being forced to choose an animal seems twee to many actors. It works for some, but not (from what I’m hearing) most.
The most popular complaint, though, was time-related. “Mind if we stay late tonight?” I’m hearing that directors ask actors to stay late in the middle of rehearsal, or even at the end. The actors who pointed this out as a pet peeve fell into two basic categories: people who use public transportation and people who have early morning jobs. If you hold actors until 11:30, it makes it difficult for them to get home using public transportation (in the Bay Area, at least. Sigh.). Actors who have early morning jobs are already stealing from sleep to be at your rehearsal and are not at all excited about going in to work tomorrow on 4 hours of sleep, especially since you’ve scheduled another rehearsal that next night. No one wants to be the one who has to say, “Yes, I mind.”
Another issue is lack of concern for safety. This includes things like refusing to bring in a fight director and making untrained actors stage their own fights; making an actor perform blocking they feel is unsafe; making actors wear a restrictive costume that makes them feel unsafe (such as restricting vision). I’ve already blogged about why you need to hire a fight director. Otherwise, we need to remember to listen carefully and respectfully to actors when they tell us they feel uncomfortable or unsafe, and check in with actors when we’re asking them to do things that might be difficult or uncomfortable. And actors, if you’re reading this, please be honest with us. Lying to directors about your comfort level serves no one.
Lack of respect and hostile work environment. Just because you’re the director does not mean you can yell at an actor until she cries. You can’t throw fits, scream at your tech people, call your staff names, or make racist. anti-Semitic, or misogynistic comments. Learning how to direct by watching movies about directors is ill-advised. I understand there’s cultural support for bad behavior by directors (the auteur being SUCH A GENIUS that he is allowed to be horrible to everyone around him) but it’s actually not OK. Producers: WHY WHY WHY do you hire these people? There are brilliant directors all over. Give someone else a chance. You really don’t need to allow someone to treat your people poorly.
What actors love about your rehearsal process: Respect. Being treated as collaborators. Having a clean, safe rehearsal space with bathrooms and nearby, easily accessible places to get food and beverages. Having a detailed rehearsal schedule sent out in advance.
DURING PERFORMANCES AND AFTER:
Refusing to do maintenance. Yeah, you kind of have to make sure the laundry gets done, props get repaired or replaced, etc. It’s not the actor’s job to do any of that. It’s our job as producers.
Refusing to honor contracts. I’m not going into details here, but I’ve personally seen contract violations of both AEA and non-AEA contracts, in addition to the people who added this to their list of pet peeves. Honor your agreements.
What actors love about performances and after: Being allowed to use PR shots for their websites; producers who are accessible and approachable; a reasonable comp policy (no one expects 100 comps, but no one expects zero either); staying in touch after the show closes; recommending an actor to other companies; being paid on time with a check that doesn’t bounce.
Of course we all screw up from time to time. I’m no exception. I make 12 mistakes every day before breakfast. The overriding message I’m getting, though, is not that actors expect you to be perfect, but that they want to be treated with respect and dignity, and are happy to forgive you if you apologize sincerely for your mistakes.
Also of course, every actor is different. What one actor finds odious is perfectly fine for another actor. Talk to your actors and listen to what they have to say. Do your best to create an environment where your actors aren’t afraid to come to you with issues. Ask questions. Use your actor friends as a resource if you’re unsure. Communication is key.
Holy Crap! The “Do you mind if we stay a little late?” thing. As a stage manager it is often my job to support the director. It is also my job to protect the cast. Even asking puts me in a terrible position. The answer always needs to be no. You have to end on time. SO dont even ask. If the actors say “Can we stay late? we think we are on to something here” then fine, but when the director asks for more time every day, the answer needs to be no.
As a fellow Sm, I wholeheartedly agree and will side with the actors (ALMOST) every time. Thankfully lately, I’ve worked with one or two who are aware of these concerns. But in the past? Yikes!
That always happened with one of my directors.Except it wasn’t “Do you mind if we stay a little late?” it was that he never said when rehearsal would end. One time it was 5:00 then the next it was 7:00, and sometimes it only lasted 5 minutes. He wouldn’t even give us a warning like “Hey, today rehearsal ends at 5:00” or “Rehearsal ends in 5 minutes!” So annoying.
This is mostly good stuff, but…
If a director asks an actor, “Mind if we stay late tonight?” and the actor says he doesn’t mind when he really does, the problematic behavior in that scenario belongs to the actor, not the director. I’m perceiving a growing trend in our culture in which an encounter where one person makes a request of another person and the other person says no is somehow seen as an interpersonal failure — to the point that it’s considered a kind of faux pas to ask anyone to do anything he might not want to do, and also a faux pas to say no to a request. It should be totally okay to make a request, and likewise totally okay to say no to a request.
“Talk to your actors and listen to what they have to say” is good advice; but it won’t work if the actors are saying things are okay with them that actually aren’t.
I write this as a director. I have to disagree – the actor is not in a position of power and so if the voice of authority (the director) asks for more time, the actor is in fear of disappointing a potential future employer, and, worse, being branded someone who doesnt want to make the production the best it can be. That can have a lasting effect on an actor’s reputation. How many times actors are labelled “difficult” under circumstances that they have no control over?
It only works the way you describe if both parties have equal power. The actor doesnt hire the director.
You’re absolutely right. The power differential is significant. Thank you for being aware of this, as a director. So many directors aren’t, and it can make things really difficult for the actors.
Completely right, Jared. I say that as an actor and a producer, and as such I’ve been on both sides of that request. It’s SO TEMPTING for a director to try to stretch rehearsal time a little long — particularly if for whatever reason you started late, or are really on to something and don’t want to stop. I get it, I do.
But as an actor, you never feel like you can be the one to say “no, sorry” and a good director knows not to ask.
The one time this actually happened to me (I was an actor in a show my company was producing; actor lateness was a problem) it was super awkward. Another company member said “no, we can’t ask that” and dissolved the tension. The next day the director apologized and she was right to, but everyone forgave her and we moved on, proving that apologies can smooth over a lot of mistakes.
Yeah but honestly, like the author said – no one wants to be “that person” who says “no,” because then you face the possible ire of the Director and perhaps even your other cast mates who really are able/willing to stay late. You job/transportation issues don’t concern them.
Oh my. I’ve never asked actors to stay late when I direct. I plan rehearsals carefully, including discovery time. As an actor, I in no way feel inferior to a director. If they ask to stay late I will always say no. I do my homework and expect the same professional courtesy from others. If they don’t that’s not my problem. What IS the problem is saying yes, ever. Give an inch and they’ll take a mile. One abuse can lead to another. Lazy people will not learn they MUST work outside rehearsal time if artists give in to their poor habits.
And if this upsets someone I’m working with who may not hire me again, chances are quite high I wouldn’t work for them again anyway.
I like my drama ON THE STAGE! Not added by dollops all over the experience.
If the planning was done properly, you should not need the extra time. Sometime magic is happening and when it does it will be the actors asking for more time.
Thanks so much!!!! well said!
I hate not being able to see well on stage. And bad shoes. I hate shoes that don’t fit or make me feel unsafe!
Thank you for this! Everyone deserves respect!
Things do happen to make a rehearsal run late. If a director wants to ask the question, then s/he should give a break, and ask the SM to poll the cast privately and report back the consensus without naming names. Then you get a true feedback and everyone feels respected. Having said that, most of the time running late isn’t an option due to the restrictions of the rehearsal space.
I like this blog. Well worded good points.
As an actor being informed whether I am still in consideration or not goes a LONG way for me. It bothers me enough that there are some companies that I have stopped auditioning for because after 4 and 5 hour callbacks they never bothered to get back to me. Even just an email that says “Thank you for coming in, but go jump in a lake,” is enough for me. Now that I am in the position of producing the first thing I did after the initial auditions was send an email to those we were not calling back. It is such an easy thing to do, it took me all of 20 minutes. Some of these actors drove an hour to audition, then an hour back. The least I can do is give them 20 minutes.
I have also come to believe that the director/producer that gets upset if an actor has to leave is one that we don’t need to work with.
As a director, I agree with most of this post. However, asking them to make weird adjustments (like doing the monologue as a spider) or reading cold at an audition…depending on the piece is totally valid. Okay, sure, if you’re doing a regional production of Streetcar, that’s stupid. But in the new play world, reading cold (as the author might bring in new pages and need to hear them cold every day!) is a truly important skill to assess in an audition. And in the experimental theater realm, it’s not so much “can you act like a spider” but testing how willing are you to jump in a try crazy stuff? How “game” are you to do bold, insane things? I would say again, that if you’re producing Hedda Gabler, that’s perhaps unnecessary, but I do think there are scenarios that warrant that in a legitmate way, as a way to gather information about if an actor has the skills necessary for a certain type of process.
So I would also encourage actors auditioning to read up on the company/ artist you’re trying out for. If you go out for a Wooster Group show, of COURSE they’ll make you do weird stuff. If you’re auditioning for a workshop at New Dramatists, reading cold is essential. If it’s a musical, expect to perhaps sight sing on the fly. If the casting director or director makes you so these things as a stupid power trip, or in a way that betrays them to be an amateur, then that’s different. But sometimes those things are completely appropriate and necessary ways to decide if you are going to enjoy this process and if I’m going to enjoy having you on board.
Cold reading is not a useful way to run an audition, and I say this after 18 years of experience in new plays development. Cold reading skills are not at all necessary for an actor unless the performance itself requires them, or unless you’re shooting a film or a TV show where an actor will get pages on the fly and be expected to shoot those pages within minutes. It’s not useful for new plays development– a playwright will not be able to discover very much from a cold read. Once the actors get into the material a bit, find the beats, see where the spine is, THEN the playwright will have some actual useful information. I talk about all of this (and more!) in my post about cold reading. Most importantly to me, it unfairly shuts out severely dyslexic actors, many of whom are the finest actors with whom I’ve ever had the honor to work. We gain so little and we lose so much by stubbornly clinging to cold reading. I think, in the end, it’s about power more than anything else.
Also, I didn’t say NOT to do bizarre adjustments– I said to be clear about it in advance if you are going to do them. Making people do a monologue as a spider is nonsense for most processes, but for the ones where such a skill is germane to the process, inform the actors in advance. You’ll get much better results– most importantly, the actors who do not excel at such a skill will self-select out, and the actors who are particularly interested in such a process will be more likely to show up.
this is right on in almost every particular. I will say: I do eat during auditions. I choose soundless food that I don’t have to look at to cope with (say: chunks of melon in a container that I can reach for without looking down). I’ve been watching auditions for five hours and not taking my own breaks so that I DON’T run over and waste people’s time, and if my jaw is moving while I watch you so be it. this also allows the free snack-age some actors mentioned appreciating: ‘have a bite of melon?’
Yeah, I do the exact same thing. I’ll book auditions right through my breaks to get everyone in, and end up sitting in one place for 7 or 8 hours. I do my best to be discreet about it and show that I’m watching, but I’ve definitely thought more about it since I started gathering material for this post!
I must read for every aspiring director in undergrad.
A big “Get your act together” read for experienced directors who bring a bad name to the profession.
Correction: “A must read”
Yes! I’ve been an actor for 40 years, professional for thirty of those, and
I do NOT want to rehearse my role pretending to be an animal! I do NOT
want to crawl around getting a ‘feel’ for the space. I do NOT want to play
staring or ‘mirror’ games. I’ve already spent much time and money being
trained as an artist, I do NOT want directors ‘re-educating’ me to their
often questionable standards. If the director knows what he/she wants,
a professional actor will almost always catch on to their drift. Games
are just a waste of, at least this actor’s, valuable rehearsal time.
AMEN! I worked with an “artsy” director who wanted us to do that junk with dim lights and make sounds….I called it “bark in the dark”. It was worthless.
Respect for our time extends to the rehearsals, too. Don’t make me use $5 worth of gasoline and battle rush-hour traffic to get there on time, and then not use me that night.
Interesting article. Domo arigato
well, I am a director & asst director in community theatre and have for over 40 years….. & have acted & done just about every position backstage before I even thought about directing… I have to say respect & time wasting works both ways…. when actors are late for rehearsels, or constantly are on their phones, the worse is when they are going behind the directors back & underminding them…. i have had actors decide to give their chacters entire back stories that go against the script, when doing TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD one actor decided that suddenly his charecter would no longer be hateful of the black community but decide to support Tom in the middle of the trial. AGAIN this is not proffessional theatre… on the PLUS side most of the actors are always willing to do whatever it takes, painting, setbuilding, props ect …… I LOVE THE THEATRE ….. i hope i treat my fellow cast & crew members with respect ……. I try to be open to their suggestions & opions. I do want to share one time waster …a guy auditioned wanted a lead & only a lead role …could be there for everything but OPENING NIGHT & couldn’t quite understand why I wouldn’t cast him…lol
I have written several articles with advice for actors, as I say in the post. This particular post is for producers and directors. As producers and directors, we need to be able to hear constructive criticism without replying defensively, “BUT ACTORS DO BAD THINGS, TOO.”
Can you please add to that list asking an actor to prepare a stack of music sides…the night BEFORE a callback? Especially when there are NEW songs with no available recordings in said stack. Everyone doesn’t have immediate access to their vocal coach or a musician to run through them.
My best advice is that someone looking to establish a career in musical theatre should be able to sight sing and/or pick out a song on a keyboard. Basic keyboard skills (enough to pick out your line) are actually quite easy to acquire! You can learn enough to get you through a music side in a weekend. I started in theatre as an opera singer, and having the skills to learn a line on my own was crucial. I am the worst at any keyboard skill above and beyond that, though. Ha.
You can check us out! Theory classes, online, for Musical Theatre actors. You’re welcome! 😉
Hey there, I’m curious. My reply is still showing as “Awaiting Moderation” on my screen. Yet I see comments posted that were after mine. Maybe it’s just a trick of my screen, or is there something you didn’t like about my post?
I’ve approved everything that’s in my moderation queue!
OK, I sorted out what the problem is– for some reason wordpress had a crapload of comments separated out into an “unread” queue that I had to go into my comments window to find. I have no idea why some comments were in my moderation queue and some were in the unread folder, but yours wasn’t the only one in there. I just went into it and approved everything in the “unread” folder. Your first comment was in the “unread” folder but your second was in my moderation queue. Weird.
Wow, whacky stuff! Sounds like a Facebook kinda stunt, LOL! Thanks for looking into it. Feel free to delete my “curiosity” post. Thanks for responding!
I loved Bob Ross, I never thought of him as an actor though but as a wonderful artist!
This is a really interesting article.. amazing how much we actually don’t know.
Very well said and fun to read!
I enjoyed this. Ironically, I’ve become less and less involved in productions since becoming a playwright. Most of the actors I met in my early days were from community theatre, and I think it makes a big difference if this is something you’re doing solely for love. Doing it as something you love AND wanting it to pay the bills…There are no words for the respect I have for folks who do that. Sincerely, my hat is off to you.
I must say, in every profession respect goes a long way. I also definitely agree with being paid on time with a check that doesn’t bounce. Getting paid late is really discouraging. The only thing worse is getting paid late by an employer that speaks down to you in order to assert his/her authority and bolster his/her own personal insecurities. I’m not an actor or director, but nice read!
This is a great piece, and an interesting look into your world.
I’m a journalist/writer and too many of these issues are resonant — mostly a real lack of respect for those who seek/need the work from those who have work available; i.e. a power imbalance. I see cringing behavior in many of my fellow writers and think it’s unwise to bow and scrape in the face of crappy and entitled behavior. If you are a seasoned professional, you expect to be treated like one. When you are not, it sets up a lot of unnecessary tension.
Neither an actor, nor a director or stage producer, but this seems pretty sound to me. Just basic decency really.
This post is very enlightening. Of course everyone who’s in a management/admin position should be respectful of things like others’ time, schedules and comfort, but I really liked your specific suggestions for directors and producers to make those things happen for actors.
Experienced way too many things in this, from both sides of the stage. It’s amazing how many people forget common courtesy!
Nice to hear it all from the Actor’s POV. Thanks for the great post.
Wow… do you mind if we stay a little late? I can’t believe directors do that. This has definitely been an eye opener.
I enjoyed your post on actors and directors. I’m so glad someone like yourself have shared these tips. You covered both sides of an actor and a director. The life of an actor is truly not about glitz and glamour, must be passionate because it’s serious work and dedication to get picked for jobs and that process can be so frustrating especially when you have a run in with a bad director. Once again GREAT post!
Such a good post. It’s a shame so many director’s don’t seem to do these things more often, given how so many of them seem to be just common sense
I don’t want a director to type his notes about my audition WHILE I’m auditioning into his laptop. He can darn well wait until I’m finished; especially when I drag myself out of a sick bed to his audition. And all for a lousy SPT 2 contract.
Jeez! Where on earth have these actors been working? Can’t be the east coast. You see, that’s why there is an Equity Deputy in the company, to convey any information, questions, concerns or problems to the Stage Manager, who in turn report them to the Producer/ Artistic Director. Plus, even the Stage Manager should/must ensure no rules being broken, rights or contracts violated.
Certainly at auditions the actor has to take care of himself and politely express their concerns if the situation becomes abusive. If it’s a Union audition any mistreatment can be reported, plus there is only a certain number of “callbacks” allowed before the actor has to be paid. The instances cited here seem to indicate that these audition, rehearsal and performances are taking place in non-Union and amateur theatre situations.
In professional theatre there are guidelines that are strictly carried out, so non one is exploited.
Even on the East Coast, most actors are non-union. But things like eating or texting during an audition, excessive callbacks, being asked to audition with material you haven’t prepped while ignoring the material you have, being told to choose an animal for your character or crawl around “discovering the space”– all of these, along with most of the other things I mention, happen all the time at AEA theatres and none of them fall under “abusive” reportable behavior. AEA steps in when the theatre violates the contract, no more, no less. They’re not going to step in because the director ate pad thai during your entire audition or made you pretend Blanche du Bois was a ferret. If only. But whatever AEA does or does not do, most actors in most shows across the nation are not AEA.
Great food for thought Gertrude, points considered. I appreciate you putting this out there as honestly as you are. 🙂
I’d add to that changing the audition venue to a different city (210 miles away) and calling to let the actor know at ten to eleven the night before an 8am audition.
Thank you for this, Melissa. I recently had an experience auditioning for a production being jointly produced by two theater companies. It was a big opportunity and I was excited to be called in by casting. They considerately sent me the sides giving me ample time to prepare and work with an audition coach. When the day came, I went in the audition room, greeted the artistic team behind the table and asked if they had a preference as to which side to start with. Silence. OK, I’ll do the one I like better first. I get through both sides. More silence. I thanked the reader, awkwardly thanked the team behind the table and showed myself out.
Please, treat me like a person. Acknowledge me. Smile. Do something. Say something. Don’t go out of your way to make me feel small. .
I am grateful for this post. I am off to 2 auditions in as many days, as of this afternoon. Through I work primarily in television right now, I see many similarities to theatre after reading some of the replies here as well. I have also been on the casting side as a music director in NYC many years ago and the one thing that has not changed is the desire for mutual respect, no matter which side of the table, or lens you are on.
I will be back here often and have subscribed to this blog! Thanks again to everyone who replied as well.
Thanks for posting this!
I just have one request for an addition: please, please add some info about monitoring & front office staff behaviors. It’s usually when the directors are casting & monitoring their own shows by themselves that I run into the bad audition/interview behavior above, but now that we’re seeing a lot of actors instead of stage managers in those positions, and it’s becoming crucial to train the social & practical sides of running auditions as well as the audition rules. I’ve noticed many actors have NO practical experience or training in other parts of the industry– they don’t know how to set up an audition room, they don’t know what material it’s appropriate to ask an actor to prepare, they don’t know that you can’t force someone to go into the audition early just because they’re there, etc. Sometimes they bring personal baggage they haven’t worked out about their own careers. not being cast in the show they’re monitoring, or their personal issues with themselves versus other actors, and they are newly in a position to wield power and influence, however tangential. There is no longer as much oversight about these things as their was in that past it’s…not good.
Please, please! And Thank you for blogging:)
The eating and/or texting is unbelievably common.
One particular incident which comes to mind, I auditioned for a CD who handles many musical touring companies. From the moment I walked into the room until the door hit me on the ass on my way out, she was tippy-tapping on her cellphone.
On another audition, I walked into the room to find a row of well dressed, silver haired men, all sporting designer eyewear and brand new MacBook Pros. Not one of them looked up from their laptops during my entire audition.
I should also mention, in both situations, no one greeted me when I entered the room and there were no introductions. To this day, I have no idea who those men in fancy designer eyewear were and have often wondered if perhaps I stumbled upon a “Discover Your Mac” tutorial.
It really is the little things – respect, safety, clear communication – that make the difference. And as I always point out: those things don’t (for the most part) cost money. So go crazy with them. You will boost the value of your show and the richness of your experience, without having gone over budget.
In terms of pet peeves: I hate it when the director of a new show asks you to prepare a monologue for the audition, and expects you to get close to what they are looking for – though how could you because you are flying blind. You know nothing about the show or character because it is a new, unpublished show and you weren’t given sides for because it’s a monologue audition! Some directors just want to see your chops and will get more specific at callbacks, sure, but I’ve actually had directors say that what I prepared wasn’t ‘right’ or that I wasn’t ‘right’ without ever saying WHAT THEY WERE LOOKING FOR. I’m not psychic. If you say your show is a contemporary comedy so I prepare some Ives but you’re piece is more high comedy…
Instead of fielding the same questions about your script again and again, or sitting though disappointing audition after disappointing audition… why not be detailed in the style and theme of your show, and perhaps even with the characters so none of us are wasting each other’s time.