Thursday, November 09, 2006

welcome to Springfield! well, that is, unless you want to do community theatre...

I can't say enough about how much I love the city of Springfield, Illinois. I love downtown, love the people, love the friends I've made – I even, dare I say it, LOVE MY JOB! Springfield has been very good to me.

Ok, most of Springfield has been very good to me.

You know that saying – "One bad apple can spoil the entire bunch"? Oh, come on - it's not so bad that I'm angry at all of Springfield (I'd still totally get jiggy with most of Springfield, if it were an attractive human type) – no, no, not that bad (and yes, I'm a drama queen)… but bad enough.

Today, I learned about a "bad apple" that has spoiled community theatre in Springfield for me.

In my previous blog entry, I talked about my recent audition for the Springfield Theatre Centre production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – and how I was frustrated with how things went… well, now, 4 days after auditions – the cast information is becoming public (and the official cast list has not been released as of yet).

And, of course, it wouldn't be community theatre if it weren't for rumors and gossip. Everything from the only female lead (the Narrator) going to a guy – to private invitations to audition (which really isn't a bad practice, if the playing field after the invite is level). But as much as I am a glutton for dirt, muck and all things related to the whys and hows of people getting cast (or not cast) – I wanted to try to keep my head level – after all, this was my first audition in Springfield, Illinois, and my first audition for the Springfield Theatre Centre.

So, let's cut to the chase, here - I didn't get a call - nothing. Neither did 2 of my dear friends. Two very talented friends, at that. I didn't get cast after giving up 5 hours of my Sunday. I didn't get cast after a great audition, and a good callback. Not even chorus – a chorus of 20 women – not even chorus.

Nothing. Zip. Nada.

Finding out today that calls were made last night – I immediately felt hurt. Disappointed in myself that I got my hopes up for ANYTHING. Believing that I'd ever be anything than the fat girl who can sing… but that disappointment in myself soon became utter and total disgust for Springfield Theatre Centre and director Bill Bauser.

Of course, I will caveat this with all of what I'm about to say being based on what I've "heard" – I don't know firsthand – and, honestly, I don't know anything about Mr. Bauser, personally – having only met him twice, and briefly both times. But I know me – I know my potential…

I know what I saw – 50 or so adults try out – 15+ females called back, and not one of them being given the one role they all hoped for – The Narrator.

I know that some of you will say that it's the director's decision who to cast – and by any means the director sees fit – but – I watched each and every one of those ladies take the stage, giving up their Sunday – and singing their hearts out for that one part. As someone who has musical directed before, there were at least 5 women at auditions on Sunday who could have done very well with the role. Not only well, but great. I'm not even counting myself as part of that group.

But were any of the women who diligently prepared, showed up (some of them on Saturday, only to find that the auditions were moved to Sunday), waited, performed, and got their hopes up cast as the lead?

No. Not one.

What transpired since Sunday's "official" auditions has only been relayed to me through the grapevine of local Springfield thespians - and that from Bill Bauser, himself – that Mr. Bauser allowed a number of people to audition for him after the official auditions and callbacks were completed.

The most shocking part of the story seems to be that Mr. Bauser not only called someone outside of Springfield proper to audition for the show and the female lead, but gave this young woman a private audition after all the other auditions were complete.

Maybe this woman was the best for the role – that's not what I'm arguing here. What I am arguing is that there were completely capable women who showed up at the auditions and did a great job – only to be snubbed for someone Mr. Bauser hand-picked.

Its fine you didn't pick me – I'll deal with that myself – but to so underhandedly cast the show? That's just not right. The issue here, really, isn't whether or not I got cast – but whether or not the playing field was level up front. It wasn't – plain and simple.

I'd not be upset, at all, if Mr. Bauser had said, from the get go, that he had the lead already cast. Tell that to everyone, up front - let them know that the part is not available. I've auditioned for shows like that before, knowing full well a lead, or many leads, were not available. And just like in this case, I was fine with not getting the lead - I am completely not fine with not casting people who ACTUALLY SHOWED UP!

Why, Mr. Bauser, would you not respect the time and talents of those who actually showed up at auditions – even after you cancelled the initial date, last minute, causing them to rearrange their schedules? They had enough respect for you and your time to show up on Sunday – in force, and yet you have completely, well, given the finger to them for doing so.

Why, Mr. Bauser, would you not cast one of the 15+ women you called back from a pool of 30+ women? Maybe your concept of "callbacks" is different from every other theatre I've ever worked with – but usually it's to narrow down the field or to check chemistry. What was a well-organized audition process quickly became nothing but a charade before you privately cast the lead.

Why, Mr. Bauser, would you tarnish not only your own reputation but that of Springfield Theatre Centre and that of Springfield community theatre in general, by doing something so completely lacking in integrity? It would have shown a heck of a lot more integrity to have moved the auditions to ALL be on Tuesday if that was the only day that you thought the girl you cast was available. Put everyone on a fair playing field – all on stage at the same time – and have a bit of accountability while you're at it. Maybe it's your own insecurity in your decision that led you to do something so completely unprofessional. Community theatre or not, you're a leader, people tend to expect more from leaders.

And where was Springfield Theatre Centre's leadership in all this? That's an even bigger question, to me.

Is this the impression that STC wants to make on new people to not only Springfield, but also to community theatre?

Is this how STC treats their volunteers? Because, like it or not, giving up 6 hours of a Sunday is volunteering to be a part of STC.

Is this the way that STC lets their "staff" work? Where are the checks and balances? Every community theatre group I've been a part of in the past has had rules and standards of what is and is not acceptible. This hardly seems acceptible in light of the fact that there was more than one woman at the auditions who could have done the part, and well.

I guess I've rambled on and on to say this – I enjoyed meeting so many great people at the auditions – and many talented, wonderful women – strong women who could have easily stood on that stage, being completely deserving of the applause that comes from that opening night… Instead, the person who was cast was done so in a manner that may be hurtful to her own reputation, not to mention that of the show, in general.

Maybe what you did, Mr. Bauser, wasn't wrong - but how you did it WAS. It was completely unfair, disrespectful and lacking in integrity - and, sadly, has completely soured my thoughts on Springfield community theatre.

And while life's not fair – much like John Lennon – "I expect more!"

I guess, Mr. Bauser, I expected too much from you.

P.S. I am fully aware that this blog entry may result in never doing theatre in Springfield, ever - and, while that'd be sad, because I feel I have a lot to offer - if that's the decision made by directors or staff, I'd respect that decision. If I have to make enemies -I'd rather have that come from being honest and up front about my feelings and thoughts. This way, at least people know EXACTLY what I think and what I said - it's out here, in black and white, for anyone to see - on a level playing field.
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MsHep said...

Hee hee...karma's a bitch, aint' it?

MzOuiser said...

Wow. I grew up doing theatre there during the 1980's. Sorry to hear that nothing has changed. Really, really sorry.

Anonymous said...

The children's session was much the same way.
So.....who did get the lead? No where can I find the cast list.