It Was Inevitable

After three and a half months with very little for me to audition for, EPAs for two appropriate Off-Broadway productions are being held today. Because of my work schedule, I only have a few hours in the morning in which I’m free to audition for them. I therefore endeavored, last week, to be a responsible auditionee and use the on-line sign-up procedure, to try and guarantee at least one morning time slot for myself.

The on-line sign-up goes live at noon exactly one week before any given day’s worth of EPAs. Because of my aforementioned work schedule, I’m usually on the subway at that time, somewhere under the Harlem river, and unable to access the Equity website. So last week, I decided to plan ahead. I went in to work a few hours early, simply so I could be at my terminal and log on to the website at the appropriate time.

Which I did. And waited three minutes as the crush of sudden site traffic stalled out the Equity website. (Is “stalled” the appropriate verb? It’s hard to keep track of these things.)

By the time the proper page had loaded, there were four hundred people in the digital line ahead of me.

Maybe they’re signing up for other things, I desperately hoped. There’s a lot happening today, after all. But no – as I stared at that webpage, watching the countdown for my request to be processed, I saw the updates come in as every EPA for today filled up.  And there I sat, having come in to work two hours ahead of time for what turned out to be no reason at all.

So, yes, here I am joining the chorus of Equity actors in New York who are screaming about the online sign-in procedure. We’re all experiencing this, and it’s making it impossible to sign up for anything. And it’s impossible to figure out how to adjust or game the system – one of us may access the server instantly, while another of us may experience what I describe above, with no apparent difference between us in terms of what we’re doing. It’s arbitrary, and it’s frustrated, and it seems to be broken.

It’s not like we can’t audition – one third of the slots are set aside for signing up the day of the audition, just like we’ve always done. Which is what I’m waiting to do as I’m typing this. Of course, this now means that fewer slots are available today, which means I had to wake up even earlier than usual – 4am, if you’re curious – to get here. And if you’ve been following the national weather, you may know that I had to make it through the cold rain brought about by the latest winter storm (in spring) in order to do it. Yes, in order to have a chance to audition for anything today, I literally had to travel through a dark and stormy night.

The change in audition procedure was meant to make things simpler for us. (That’s what we were told, at least.) If you can make it through the online procedure in time, you don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn, when your voice is still ragged and your brain still charging up for the day, in order to try and book a performing job. But only a tiny fraction of are managing this. The rest of us are waking up earlier and earlier for fewer and fewer spots, taking the faults of the previous system and making them exponentially worse.

I do understand – the day job I mention above is in the not-for-profit arts, and the more you work in that field the more you realize that server hardware and software is simply not meant for us. We don’t generate enough income for the major developers to bother with us (great job, capitalism), and so we have to jury-rig programs with what we have available. It’s an unfortunate state of affairs, and I sympathize with what Equity must be going through.

But do they sympathize with us?

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