So, you didn’t get a part in the show you auditioned for. You’re understandably, disappointed, confused, overwhelmed and wondering what on earth you did wrong. There’s no question that you are absolutely justified in feeling upset and even angry when you don’t see your name up on the cast list.
Even though it may feel like all your theatre-related hopes and dreams have been crushed for good, there are still plenty of ways you can get involved with the production even if you aren’t actually onstage. In fact, getting involved in the department and becoming a more visible presence can even boost your chances of getting a role the next round of auditions.
Even if you don’t have the slightest clue what the difference is between a phillips screwdriver and slot screwdriver and haven’t yielded a hammer since, well, never, there’s no time like the present! In addition to playing an integral role in creating the set pieces and scenery of the show, you’ll learn invaluable skills that you can carry with you for years to come. Plus, you’ll even get a little bit of time onstage — granted, you’ll be clad head-to-toe in black and be frantically shuffling around set pieces in the dark, but the thrill is still totally worth it.
If the idea of spending a few months casually dangling from a wooden ladder is a bit too much for you, you may feel more comfortable pitching in with the props department. Being involved in props is great if you enjoy a challenge, as you’ll spend a lot of time on an unparallelled treasure hunt for items more random and ridiculous than you ever could have imagined. However, once you’ve collected all your items, be prepared to lose them constantly, as actors have a bad habit of playing around with props that are definitely not theirs.
Okay, so maybe you didn’t get to unleash your inner diva under the warm glow of a spotlight. But that doesn’t mean you can’t show off your fashionista side by creating, collecting and fitting gorgeous costumes for the cast! Half the fun is spending an inordinate amount of time in the costume shed trying stuff on for funsies, and the other half is watching your creations come to life onstage as you nail down the perfect costume.
If you like the idea of being off in your own little world, lights could be the perfect way to get involved with the theatre department. Tucked away in your booth, you get a bird’s-eye view into the action below and are responsible for those moments that take the show from “meh” to “WOW.” Besides, the experience is great for any other event that needs someone who knows how to operate the lights — you’ll be in high demand.
Sure, the title “Director’s Assistant” can make you sound a lot like Anne Hathaway’s character in “The Devil Wears Prada.” You might think you’re dooming yourself to weeks upon weeks of fetching lattes and takeout pizza, but there’s a lot more that goes into this job than just that. Directors have approximately a billion things on their mind at once, and you can play a big role in helping to alleviate some of those challenges and running errands that are vital to the production. Besides, what better way than to get some facetime with the person making next year’s casting decisions than being literally attached to their hip?
Front of House
If you want to get known by your director without spending months upon months hanging out backstage, working on a front-of-house crew could be the best job for you. Here, you’ll be responsible for ticket sales, prepping food that audience members can purchase at intermission and making programs for the show. Additional responsibilities include dancing in the lobby in a spot where the actors can see you from the stage so they start to crack up — or maybe that’s just what my best friends in high school did. Maybe don’t take my advice on that one.
So maybe your singing voice is a little more “Miranda Sings” than Laura Benanti, but you’ve been rocking out on the trumpet in band for years. Satisfy that urge to perform by auditioning to join the orchestra for the show. You get all the fun of showbiz without the months of rehearsals and still get to show off your talent in a spot where you’ll really shine.
Another option if you don’t make it into the cast is to join the sound crew. You’ll work with any live or recorded music and sound effects and manage the actors’ microphones. It’s a trying task, as everyone will definitely notice when backstage shenanigans are picked up by a rogue mic and projected to the entire audience. You’ll also get to play around with several sources of sound effects, and nothing is more fun than scrolling through a library of sounds to find the one that’s juuuuuust right for your show.
Who run the world? Stage managers. Who run the world? Stage managers. But really, from the second rehearsals start to the second the curtain falls on closing night, the stage manager is an absolutely vital asset to the show running smoothly. If you get a thrill out of organization and thrive off high stakes, you might love sitting just offstage coordinating all the moving pieces of the show through a tiny headset. If you consider yourself a people-person, this could be the job for you, as you’ll have to manage actors, techies, props masters, costumes and front-of-house staff while working closely with the director. Don’t think you’re quite ready to hold the fate of the show in your hands? Offer to be an assistant stage manager to learn the ropes.
Though it’s no secret that it can be tough to watch a show come to life without you actually performing in it, you can still play your own special role behind the scenes. And who knows? Maybe you’ll stumble upon your secret passion along the way.