To Be Or Not To Be…A Jerk Who Won’t Take “Minor” Theatre Roles
I was raised doing theatre. It’s where I planted my acting roots. As the years went on and I transitioned in to more film and television, I rarely get to do theatre any more. First and foremost, it’s very rare that I’m actually available for the run of a show, much less for all the rehearsal and such as well. I almost always have several other film or band projects somewhere in there, so it’s almost a miracle when the stars align and I happen to hear about a play that’s casting and I happen to be available!
Now, even when that happen, every single time without fail that I agree to do a play, I end up having to pass up something else, or several something elses that come along after. There’s also the time commitment. You have however many rehearsals over a month or three, depending, plus the actual run of the show. In the time it takes to do one play, I sometimes might have done many projects (my highest being 40 projects in 3 months). And it’s probably quite annoying for my agent who is trying to get me work when I’m not available for a large chunk of time.
For this reason, I have to be pretty judicious about if I choose to do a play. Many times I just can’t take anything less than a lead role or at least something major or that I feel is really worth the time as something interesting or “meaty” in some way. I hate this, and I hate addressing it so I usually just don’t audition because I don’t want to have to say “I’m afraid I’m only interested in the lead.” I know that this should be fine. Every time I have, people have been totally understanding (or at least seemingly so) but I can’t help feeling like an egotistical jerk who comes off as “I’m too good for smaller parts.”
On the other hand, I’ve spent 32 years working on my craft and advancing my career and I do have not only a responsibility to be practical and a little more choosy, but I should have the right as well. And not just me, anyone should. Maybe when you’re just starting out you might need to be less picky (like when I used to do any and all extra work I could get into) to get some experience, but we should all have the right to choose to some degree.
Amazingly, this has come up twice recently. I ended up taking a smaller part in Macbeth because I like the director and trusted his judgment when I’d laid out my feelings and he felt these roles were worth my time, and because I wanted to work with him and my friend who is the lead (I did audition for the lead as well).
Now I may be facing it again as I have a callback for another play tomorrow and I think I’m only being considered for a minor role. Part of me thinks maybe I should turn it down (if I’m even offered a role) but there’s always a part of me that doesn’t want to miss out. Part of me who knows that you never know who you might meet or where any particular road might take you. Often, it’s the most unexpected path that ends up going somewhere interesting. There are certainly things I like about this show, and I like to believe the old “There are no small parts, only small actors” and think that I could really do something memorable with whatever I’m given.
But I also don’t want to seem like an egotistical, ungrateful twat either. I guess I’ll just see if there’s even a decision to be made before worrying about it. Or as I like to say, “I’ll tackle that boat when I come to it.”