Today there weren’t any non-Equity auditions that made sense for me to go to, so in the spirit of jumping right back into this thing, I decided to go crash an Equity call. Actor’s Equity Association is the actor’s union, and there are strict rules governing how auditions for union productions are run. There are also two basic ways to get into the union, and one of them is to be offered and Equity Contract. It’s very much a Catch 22, because you can’t audition for and receive an Equity Contract if you’re not already Equity, but you can’t get into Equity unless you audition and are offered a contract. The other way is (I think, but I’ll probably discover more about this) kind of antiquated now, but basically you can work at certain theaters for points toward membership. These jobs are hard to come by as well, because so many people are fighting for them and there aren’t very many to go around.
In any case, one of the ways to break through is to go to an Equity audition and basically hope for the best. If the casting panel sees everyone from the union that has signed up and there is extra time, they may elect to see non-union performers who signed in earlier (MUCH earlier) that day. Or they may not—it just depends. This means that you might be sitting in a holding room from as early as 6am until 5pm and not have the opportunity to audition. This is what I decided to do.
I’d only actually done this once before, and it hadn’t quite gone according to plan (like most of my life) so I didn’t totally know what to expect. However, I was delighted when I got to the Actor’s Equity Building to find that there’s now an entire waiting room that opens at 6am that will have the non-union sign-in sheet in it. I had to work for a few hours this morning, so I didn’t get there until about 1:30, but already this was better than I remember. I signed in (#44—not great, but I guess not horrible…) and parked myself in a comfortable spot. The board by the sign-in indicated that non-Equity actors should come back at 2pm (after the lunch break), so I figured I’d at least have some information shortly. At about 2:30 or so the monitor in the room got a phone call from upstairs, then came over and announced that no non-union performers were going to be seen. I would have liked to audition, but this was fine with me.
I’d only spent about an hour there, but got lots of first-hand information so that I know what I’m doing the next time I do this. It’s not scary, and is in fact pretty easy—way easier than I remember it being years ago. There’s still a whole lot of waiting involved for only a slim chance of even getting the chance to audition, but it’s better than nothing. It would have been so easy to go home after work, but then I’d be wondering “what if I’d been seen?” I wasn’t seen, but at least I know. I’m done with “what ifs.”