Summertime Blues

Of all the lonely places in this often lonely city, few are quite so lonely as audition waiting rooms in the summertime.

There haven’t been very many EPAs over the past few weeks. That’s to be expected; the summer tends to be the slow season for auditions. It slowly picks up in September, as companies start casting for the season to come, and then really gets busy in January and February as auditions for summer seasons take place (yes, summer shows are cast that far out in advance). In July and August? Not much of anything.

If you don’t audition here in New York, you might assume that a lack of shows to audition for would mean that those few auditions taking place would be swamped with actors. It would seem to be simple supply and demand; the fewer the number of jobs, the more heated the competition for them. And yet, in the summer months, the opposite is true. EPA audition rooms are frequently ghost towns, and even for auditions which are popular, I can usually arrive anytime I want and be assured of an audition slot.

There are two interlinked reasons for this. One is that many actors simply aren’t here; if you landed one of those summer stock gigs back in January or February, you’ll be off performing somewhere where you don’t have to deal with our crumbling subway infrastructure or this city’s pungent summertime aroma. So the available pool of actors is substantially smaller than usual. The second, more insidious reason, is a cluster of assumptions stemming from the first. If an actor is here in the city over the summer, then surely (we assume, in our darkest and most paranoid moments) a casting assistant watching them audition is likely to assume that lack of ability is the reason why. And since we assume they’re predisposed not to cast us, we simply don’t show up. There’s already a pervasive sense that EPAs are meaningless (even though I’ve gotten jobs from them, as have many of my friends), and this simply gets worse as the mercury rises.

As it happens, I’ve never had an out-of-town summer gig, stock or otherwise. I’m not really able to leave town in general these days; I have a day job with actual responsibilities, I live by myself and am the sole means of support for a demanding cat. So I’m not able to pursue those summer stock jobs. Plenty of other people are in the same situation, for one reason or another. And so we find ourselves in those lonely summertime audition rooms.

And I must admit, it’s easy to succumb to the despair I describe above, when you’re one of a half-dozen people in a large holding studio, staring at large swaths of empty space as you wait for the one audition you might have that week. And if I were just looking to potential acting gigs to satisfy my creative urges, and just looking to casting assistants to validate my artistic existence, I might indeed succumb. But fortunately, I have enough writing projects to keep me busy for a while – I’m literally going to start drafting something as soon as I finish this post. And the long, hot, empty days of summer are a perfect time to sit down, with minimal distractions, and get some work done.

Plus there’s fireworks. Those always cheer me up.

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