You didn’t get called back. Now what?

Artistic Manager Matt FitzGerald goes over the best way to respond to not being called back after auditioning.

You find yourself sitting in a plastic chair in the lobby of a theater. You’ve done everything you can to prepare. Spent hours practicing your song, picking out your outfit, drank plenty of water, gotten a good night sleep. Your heart starts racing as they call you into the audition. Time seems to stop and simultaneously speed past you. Before you know it you are back in the lobby. You’re pretty sure you did a good job and now you just have to wait to find out if they want to see more of you…

So many of us find ourselves in this position, and often we learn that, no, they don’t want to see more.

“Thank you for coming to audition but we do not have a part for you. Best of luck with your next audition.”

What now?

Start with something to ease your mind: yoga, meditation, cuddles with your partner or pet, a good cry, or my personal favorite, a glass of wine. Or two.

Then, reflect on your audition. Are you happy with your performance? Good. The only thing you can control is how well you perform. You can’t control if you are a good fit or too tall or whatever.

Alternatively, is there something you want to fix? Don’t beat yourself up over it, but take some time to take stock of what you can change so you can rock your audition in the future.

The very next thing you should do is find another audition to plan for. Remembering that there is always another production coming up will help you get past this last one.

If you really don’t understand why you weren’t called back, you can email the production team. But let me be clear about this: You HAVE to the get the wording right or you run the risk of burning bridges. Remember that they are still in the middle of a stressful and time-consuming process and want to be focusing on who they are going to cast and not why they didn’t cast you.

Here is the only wording I can come up with that works:

Thank you for the opportunity to audition for you. I understand you are still busy with the casting process but if you find yourself with a free minute, if you could share any constructive criticism regarding my audition that could help me improve in the future, it would be greatly appreciated. Best of luck with your production and I look forward to having the opportunity to audition again in the future.

You thank them for their time, recognize that they are busy and ask for advice to get better, not an explanation on why they passed on you.

One other last thing I want to mention. Sometimes, a director can be doing you a favor by not calling you back. It is the harder decision but the more honest and kinder decision to not call back someone if you know you are not going to cast them. I do my best to respect the time of the people I work with and I don’t want to make you go through your preparations, whatever they are, drive to the theater, sit and watch people continue to audition and waste your entire evening if you aren’t going to be cast.

A (possible) list of reasons why a director might not call you back:

  • You didn’t perform well.
  • Others performed much better in all the roles you could play.
  • You don’t fit with the other people who auditioned (too old, too tall, etc.)
  • You look like the director’s ex.
  • You were a jerk the last time you worked together.
  • You put a typo in your email address.
  • You forgot to shower.
  • You sang the wrong song. 
  • You are literally not available during performances.
  • The auditions were actually a performance piece and you were the audience.
  • You were rude to the people signing you in. (They are secret spies.)
  • You didn’t prepare.
  • “This is a youth production, Carl.”
  • Mercury is in retrograde.
  • “It’s not you, it’s me.”
  • You forgot to audition