We used to receive casting decisions in the mail. I remember continually checking the mailbox to see if they had arrived. If it was a musical and you received a thick envelope you knew you were in... a thin envelope... well you know where this is heading.
Most people think the worst thing that can happen to them is not getting the part they wanted. Let me tell you from experience... it’s much harder to not be cast.
The first time I wasn’t cast in a show literally felt like the end of my life. I had been doing shows back to back since I was 13 and now four years later in my senior year I wasn’t cast in a production. I was devastated.
But looking back now I realize that I learned as much in that moment about who I wanted to be as I did in the four years of being in shows, because I had to decide the type of person I was going to be.
Was I going to be the type of person that couldn’t be happy for my friends success? Or the time of person that would take the time to be upset, while not allowing that to take away someone else’s joy?
Was I the type of person that wanted an opportunity removed from someone else just so I could have it? Or could I understand that this opportunity was not meant for me, but was meant for someone else?
Was I the type of person that respected my mentors only when I got my way? Or did I actually trust them to make the right decisions for all of us?
Those are a lot of decisions to make about who you are in a short amount of time... particularly since I had reached a point where I never thought I wouldn’t be cast!
I had been in every show, I had given up vacations, holidays, birthdays to be at rehearsals. I had volunteered my time. I had gone above and beyond. I had paid my “dues”! How could they not cast me?
That’s the thought process that made me realize that I had gone down a dangerous path. Was I only doing these things to tip the scales in my favor? Or was I doing them because I was taking every opportunity available for me to grow as a person? Was I doing those things because I loved theatre... or just for a part?
So I had a lot of choices to make and trust me I stumbled along the way. It was uncomfortable to go to rehearsal that next day and have every one try and comfort me, but I made a decision to trust the world around me and know that I was going to end up exactly where I needed to be.
I made the decision to celebrate the roles my friends received. I made the decision to be happy for the new people in the show as I knew the love and excitement they were about to experience!
So the show came around and I attended every performance to cheer on my friends and I ended up taking a workshop in town and auditioning for the Young Americans a decision that completely changed my life path and led me around the world, to the creation of SDP, and is where I met the love of my life... none of which would have happened by the way if I had been cast in that production.
Not being in that show was hard. Obviously I still think about it, but that moment led me to where I was supposed to be. It gave my the time to realize how lucky I was to be in the shows I was in and to have made the friends that I had.
It gave me the chance to realize that every show I had been cast in there were dozens that had received the “no” letter that still came out to support us and try again at the next audition.
Not being cast is a part of being in theatre. At some point you will not be cast... and that’s ok. It’s not personal. It’s a natural part of the process of the passion you have chosen.
So start deciding the type of person you want to be now! Don’t wait till it happens, because it’s hard enough. Know the type of person you want to be and trust the process. Know that not being in a show is not the end of your world... in fact it very well may be the beginning!
-Executive Director and Co-founder, Lindsay Kelly