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Reasons for landing in the ensemble

Yoshi2Yoshi2 Registered User Posts: 68 Junior Member
edited October 2011 in Musical Theater Major
Hi everyone. Over the past week, I auditioned for the fall play at my school. For my audition, I prepared a monologue that the lead of the play has to deliver. I thought I made great choices, was very clear, and projected very well. However, I did not get a callback for any of the parts in the show (and my director called back people for pretty much every major role in the show). I was confused at first because there were some people that had no expirience at all and some clearly amateur (not trying to to bash anyone, just making a point) actors that got called back (I have lots of expirience at more than just my school drama program). On the day of the callbacks I asked my director to let me read for one of the major parts, and he agreed to it. However I still got a part in the ensemble (though it's not too bad because I still do get a few scenes where I have lines). I am still confused as to why I didn't even get called back at first. Did I make a mistake by auditioning with one of the most dramatic scenes in the play (that requires buildup)? Or did my director just want me in the ensemble? Any of your thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you
Post edited by Yoshi2 on

Replies to: Reasons for landing in the ensemble

  • college_querycollege_query Registered User Posts: 3,980 Senior Member
    Hard to give you the answer you are looking for based on the limited information you shared, but here are some possibilities:

    1) have you performed for this director/at this school before? (I'm assuming you are still in HS). At our HS it's rare that someone walks in and first time gets a major part. It happens, but it's rare. Instead, students build their way up and gain the confidence of director that they will show up, know their lines, not cause trouble, etc.

    2) if you have typically received lead roles before, it could be the director wants to give someone else a chance. My S has performed with a community group for several years, and the director has told me that as good as he is, she can't cast him in the lead role in every show. This is especially true if your school program has an educational element to it.

    3) Do you have to write down conflicts as part of the audition process? If so, and if you have some, it's possible the director chose not to cast someone with conflicts in a major role but instead gave you an ensemble role so he doesn't have schedule around your conflicts.

    4) Does the lead role have a "type" that you are not? My son's HS has auditions on Tuesday. He already knows he will NOT be the lead, because he doesn't have the right voice type, body type, appearance, etc. It happens to be a musical he's already done twice (not at the school) so he doesn't really care - he is hoping for ensemble with maybe a featured solo at some point. The solo that would get the bigger applause actually has the smaller part in the show overall, so he would prefer a smaller part if he's in the show more.

    Could be lots of other reasons, but those are a few things that come to mind.
  • keepingcalmkeepingcalm Registered User Posts: 520 Member
    Yoshi - I would not spend too long worrying about why or why not you are in the ensemble. As college_query said there may be a lot of good reasons, or there may not. Many times it has nothing to do with you and although it is very disappointing to feel good about an audition and really want a part if you spend too much time worrying about the whys and whats it will stop you for enjoying the role you have.

    For my D we have dealt with what to us seemed like bewildering casting many times. Sometimes she was cast in the dance ensemble because they needed a dancer they could rely on to help others stay on time, sometimes they opted for a different kind of lead character. There is just no real way to know.
  • tracyvptracyvp Registered User Posts: 660 Member
    Yoshi, only your director knows for sure why she cast you the way she did. You cannot beat yourself up and second guess the choices you made. You know absolutely that you did your very best and the result was not up to you.

    I don't think it would be inappropriate (after casting is done and rehearsals are underway) to approach your director and ask her what you can do in terms of training and/or preparation to improve your chances of getting a lead in the future. She may or may not offer suggestions and she may or may not give you some feedback and/or insight as to what went into casting for this show.
  • megpmommegpmom Registered User Posts: 3,114 Senior Member
    OP: Haven't you said in other posts that you are a particularly low bass? My S is a bass-baritone and there are precious few leads in modern musicals that he can sing well. Maybe if it is a "golden age" musical - Oklahoma, South Pacific, etc. Casting may have just been due to your voice type. Just cause you can hit the high notes, they may be a strain to you and your voice. My S (who has been performing professionally since he was a child) has been content in the chorus since his voice changed. He has focused on his dance skills so that he is a valuable utility player.
  • megpmommegpmom Registered User Posts: 3,114 Senior Member
    ^ Oh, rereading the OP post - I guess this wasn't a musical?? Then voice type shouldn't have anything to do with it. But "type" still will matter - looks, personality, height, etc.
  • Yoshi2Yoshi2 Registered User Posts: 68 Junior Member
    Yeah, it was a straight play, not a musical. And I have been in the school drama club two years prior to this. My director even gave me an award freshman year for working hard on the dances. I asked my parents about this and my mom said that she thinks I have a tendancy to overact sometimes (Which I don't know if that's really true or not, but I definently don't think it's to the extent where I'd be the only guy that auditioned that didn't get even a callback). I mean, I'm ok with not getting the part that I want because I know that there are lots of criteria that go into casting that aren't necessarily always under my control. But I thought I would at least deserve a callback. The only reason that I can think of is that he wanted to put me in the ensemble (not sure if that term is exclusively used for musicals or not) to improve the quality of it.
  • alibabba808alibabba808 Registered User Posts: 170 Junior Member
    I agree with speaking to the director once things are up and running. My daughter auditioned for a show last year and by all accounts was amazing at the callbacks. Her voice teacher was the piano player for the auditions and was equally dumbfounded when someone was cast in the lead that she could not even recall from auditions or call-backs. My daughter emailed the director after a few days and spoke about how much she enjoyed the audition process (she did) and asked for feedback regarding her performance in order to learn and improve. Well - the director did get back to her and gave her some excellent feedback to consider in future auditions. My daughter thanked her for the input and moved on. After the professional way that my daughter interacted with this director - she publicly called my daughter a "class act" and continues to be a major supporter to this day. In the end there is always something to learn - from successes and failures!!
  • lalamusicmuselalamusicmuse Registered User Posts: 52 Junior Member
    I agree with college_query. I just auditioned for a play and I knew that I didn't quite fit any of the major female roles, and I was right! I was cast, but as a minor character.
    At my school, the director also tries to mix it up. She can't give the same person the lead in every show, especially when there are so many talented people in the department. So far, only one boy has gotten two leads in a row, but we have a shortage of boys!
    A third thing that happens at my school is seniors are more likely to be cast as leads than underclassmen, although it is not unheard of. (Last year I was cast as a junior, and three years before that, a sophomore was the lead). It all depends on the strength of the senior class that year.
    So I wouldn't think too much about it. You can talk to your director for feedback if you want, but it could be a combination of many, many things.
    Oh, and you said that some amateur actors were called back, and sometimes the director just wants to see more of them, since they have never seen them before, and they are looking to see if they have potential and to try to get more of a sense of them.
  • caramello12caramello12 Registered User Posts: 108 Junior Member
    I agree with tracyvp and others. Not only would it not be inappropriate to talk to your director, but I think it would be VERY appropriate, and you might learn something from it!

    When you approach your director, you might want to ask for a time when he/she is free where you can talk for 15-30 minutes. Once you get to that appointment, DON'T say, "Why didn't I get a lead role?"

    It would be much better to ask, "What can I improve or work on so that my next audition for you is better?" Your director's response will be very telling. If he/she can give you some tips or areas you need to work on and can back them up, then take the suggestions to heart and just work on those things for your next monologue. If he/she can't give you a concrete answer, or can't back it up, then you'll know that you did just fine with the monologue and the reason was something other than the quality of your own performance.

    How do I know this if I'm new to theater? This is exactly what happened when I auditioned for drum major of my high school's marching band. I felt I'd conducted very well, and the students who were playing for the auditions thought so, too. So I talked to my band director and he didn't give me clear answer. This was how I figured out that it was his bias that made me not get drum major. (I know he's biased against me because things like this happened all 4 years of high school. If anyone's familiar with district/regional/state band/chorus, I got first chair in district band one year and beat out 2 other saxophone players from my school to get that spot. Those judges don't even see me or know who I am. But in my high school, the band director put me third chair behind both those guys!)
  • Yoshi2Yoshi2 Registered User Posts: 68 Junior Member
    Thanks for the advice everyone. And yeah, I think I will try to get my director to talk to me about what I could improve on for my audition. I'm a bit afraid that he'll suspect that I'm unhappy with the part that he gave me (and quite truly, I am a little disappointed), but I think that if ask in the right way, his responses will give me insight onto reasons why I wasn't casted as a lead.
  • tracyvptracyvp Registered User Posts: 660 Member
    Yoshi, your director will absolutely know that you are disappointed in the part you received, but that's not a bad thing. It's absolutely normal for everyone who hopes to be a lead to be a little disappointed when they don't get it. BUT the way you approach him and the humility with which you receive his feedback will speak volumes to him about your maturity and "teachability." He will remember that, I guarantee it.

    And remember that you are not questioning his casting, you're asking him for feedback because YOU want to improve your skills. What teacher/director could be upset by that attitude in a student?
  • onstageonstage Registered User Posts: 1,250 Senior Member
    I'm just re-reading these posts, and you've received some good advice. Please don't think of getting a part in the ensemble as a failure. As a director, I can tell you that having a strong ensemble is extremely important; and ensemble members often have even more to do than leads. I face this problem every year in school productions where students are unhappy with being cast in the ensemble -- they feel unimportant, and it's simply not true! Have you ever seen a production where a few of the lead actors were strong performers but the chorus was not? It can ruin the whole show. Directors very much appreciate ensemble members who are dedicated, reliable and enthusiastic.

    And believe me, if you become a prefessional actor in the future, you will be thrilled to be cast in the ensemble!
This discussion has been closed.