So you’ve applied for some shows – you might even have been to an audition… You were hopeful of being cast but now your dreams have been shattered with that dreaded, ‘No, not this time’ email… That’s if you’ve been sent an email at all… So put all thoughts of fire-bombing the producer’s home aside – here’s how to deal with that no…
Don’t take it personally
Like any job application, there can only be one man for the job and in an increasingly competitive world of cabaret and burlesque the producer might be looking for something very specific. Yes, it might feel personal that you weren’t picked – especially if you know the producer in question (it’s a very small world, our world) but a producer will have a number of criteria regarding their casting. They might only be looking for acts that fit a certain theme. they might only be looking for a certain type of act (comedy / something involving a skill/ very classic…) and your act didn’t fit. They might be looking for a certain caliber of performer (only a headliner with a certain level of international experience / only a newcomer) or they may only have a certain amount to pay and your application went over their budget.
Face-to-face castings or auditions might be harder as these are often going to be based on a certain type of look/size/style/skill or level of skill. Those of us in this crazy world of entertaining have all had those castings (usually for TV adverts or whatever) where you walk in and before you’ve even done your bit, it’s ‘No’. We’ve learned not to take these to heart – again whoever is casting might be looking for a specific type and just by looking at you, they can tell whether you are it. You might well have bowled them over with your skill and blinded them with your baps, but they might have been looking for someone who is 7 foot tall with rainbow dreadlocks and unless this is you, they’ve waved your skills and winning smile goodbye.
They’ve probably had a whole heap of applications and there was someone in the pile that was a better fit for what they needed. In essence, you weren’t what they were looking for – this time. So when you get that rejection response, don’t be too down-hearted, as at least the producer knows you exist and may keep you on file for another time.
They’ve not EVEN BOTHERED to email and tell me…
We hear this all the time. The, ‘I took the time and trouble to make my application and they’ve not even bothered to email me yes or no…‘ Producers and casting directors, etc, are under no obligation to contact anyone who applies for a casting. In reality, if you apply for any job, it’s rare that you get a reply, or a ‘sorry, we’ve not been able to consider you this time‘ response. But, because we’re lulled into thinking the cabaret/burlesque world is somehow different from all other jobs markets, we think there’s some intimate bond between those doing the casting and those cast-ees; that they will send us a perfumed letter in the post to let us know how great our application was – oh how romantic the world of entertainment is! Think on it this way. If you were very busy – as casting producers often are – running shows alongside other jobs or shows, maybe trying to juggle 10 different jobs or childcare plates at a time, for your own sanity you usually contact only those you will book for that particular casting. Emailing everyone who has responded to a casting can take hours. Really. For every casting you put out there, you will get on average 50+ applications. Some will not even have bothered to read the requirements of your casting (for help on show applications, look here and for tips on writing a bio look here and for CV help go here ). Some, believe it or not, will not have done any research on your show, the location and what it is. And these are usually the type of applicants who demand a response to their application.
If you don’t receive a response, don’t take this to heart. Again, it’s nothing personal; it’s probably not the case that the producer can’t be bothered to email, it’s more likely that the producer has so much (other) work to contend with.
Do you ask for feedback?
This is a tricky one. It can go one of two ways. If you ask for feedback in a polite “thank’s for letting me know,” reply to the rejection email the producer might just say, ‘I loved your acts/style/etc but it’s not what we were currently looking for‘ or “We already have a comedy artist on the bill so we were just looking for something a bit more classic“. But if you ask for feedback be prepared for the producer who is going to be brutally honest, like, “Well, you really need to up your game. Your costumes look really cheap and you look like you’ve never rehearsed. Plus we really hate the song, ‘Feeling Good’ – in fact it does the exact opposite for us…” So really only ask for feedback if you want honest feedback.
Grow a thick skin. Apply for MORE castings.
If you are applying for castings on a regular basis, then you will probably already have developed a thick skin. If you only apply for a casting once in a blue moon and you pin all your hopes to it, then it’s more likely you will be upset. Most of the successfully cast performers apply for castings all the time.
Do not make a whole new set of acts to fit in with the show…
As tempting as it may be to try and fit into a casting that might not be you/your style/your current repertoire of acts, do not ever make up an act to fit a casting. Trust us, this is the fastest way to actual rejection. Casting producers generally like an act that actually exists, with actual footage and actual tried and tested audience response. It’s rare that casting producers will book an act that doesn’t exist. Mainly just be you and do your acts and do them well. Your time will come to be picked, we promise. Until then carve out a niche for yourself doing something you love, not what you think the bookers of shows will book.
Hit the Rehearsal Room
So you’ve been rejected? Nothing makes us work harder than a ‘no’. Nothing should make us feel better than moving to our chosen music, flinging our costume pieces to the high heavens and just generally letting rip, rehearsing and trying to make the best version of ourselves that we can offer. Hit the studio. Feel good, Hone the acts and the next time you apply they will be perfect. Plus dancing about releasing endorphines makes us happy. And you can work off all that ‘I’m gutted, I’ve just reached for all the chocolate’ anti-celebration you just had.
Up Your Game
If you are getting a slew of ‘No’ emails, it might be time to have a look at why. Are your costumes up to the level of the performers who are getting booked? If not, rework them. Are your acts as rehearsed as they can be? If not, rehearse. More. A lot more. Are your ideas too ‘out there’ to be booked (there will be people who will book these acts – you just need to do a bit more research and target your applications to different producers)? Are your acts too ‘samey’ as all other performers – in which case, have a look at what you can do to stand out from the crowd.
Do some Yoga – or something else to de-stress…
If you’ve been really looking forward to hearing from the show of your dreams and they’ve just said no, it’s tempting to feel crushed. Instead, try some yoga. Yoga calms and relaxes the body. It re-sets your adrenaline (putting the body out of the fight or flight mode and into healing mode). It helps the mind clear and calm.
Reassess Your Goals
It might be time to look at what you want to achieve. Rejections are a great time to reassess your goals. You might be reaching for the top without taking the first steps on the ladder (in which case, aim your casting aspirations a little lower and build your way up – you may find that after a year of smaller shows, the bigger ones come calling without the need to apply). It might be that you are just not cut out for this – whether that be of the mindset of constantly facing rejection or quality of performer. Please don’t think we are being harsh when we say this – there is always other roles to fill if you really aren’t cut out for the life on stage. You could be an excellent organiser (you might be brilliant at producing shows!) or great at the technical side (theatres, venues, producers, event people always like to know technicians – PLUS there is more money working as a technician than on the stage!). Think about what you really want and move closer to that goal or move on.
Finally… Some things definitely not to do when you’ve been rejected…
Do not – we repeat, do not hit social media and slag off the producer, the company, whoever auditioned you, etc… This is the quickest way to ensure all applications are a firm no and you will look like a bad looser with no professional attitude.
Step away from the emails… You might be tempted to reply to your ‘no’ email with a “Why the Fk not? I’m effing amazing, it’s your loss, you losers! I hope no one goes to your show and all the (successfully cast) performers fall off the stage…” Do not do this!
Pack up all your performing gear and have a burning ceremony… Castings are a numbers game – you might be one in 50 who has applied. Do you really want to trash everything you’ve worked on because of one casting?
Make anyone feel awkward… By all means go to the show you’ve applied to as an audience member. Meet the producer in person. Be genuine, nice and professional. Never say, ‘Oh yes, we have been in contact before – I applied for this show and you REJECTED ME!! Yes, I was the one you rejected…” etc. As we’ve outlined before a producer might have any number of reasons why your weren’t chosen for a show. You might now be on their radar and they might be thinking of you for another casting. They might not remember your casting in the sea of many (again, don’t be offended by this – would you be able to remember every person you meet, every word that is said in an email?) Words to the above effect would make a producer feel awkward and ensure you remain on their radar for the wrong reasons.