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  • Writer's picturescottwguthrie

Sharing rejection

There's a social media challenge that's been going around recently called Share Your Rejection.

It's mostly my performer friends talking about opportunities that they lost through auditions or circumstances with agents, casting agents, casting directors, or other creatives in the industry. While I applaud their sense of transparency on this issue, I met it with conflicting feelings.

When I used to take a certain class in NYC, I was introduced to the idea of a safe space. Anything that happened in that space, you could feel protected by the individuals in it. It allowed us to take risks and bare parts of our souls, artistically. It's absolutely vital to achieve growth. As a teacher and director, I always strive to maintain the safe space. It protects what is said and done in that room.

So with that in mind, I looked at this challenge as a potential for growth and a catharsis for maybe some bad memories. But I couldn't help but feel that there was no safe space available for this on social media. The nice thing about feeling this in a safe space is that you can share it, it's released from you, and it exists in that moment. It all dissipates when you leave that space and move on with your day, and ultimately, your life.

Social media allows you to release it and then essentially holds it in the ether. Forever. Hanging there for you and whoever has access to you to revisit it whenever they would like. Forever. No dissipation. No moving on. Forever.

So, the safe space argument was my first thought.

My second refers to the best advice I ever got in show business.

"Shut up."

This was back in a time before smart phones, social media, or our general dependence on the internet. It was basically saying that you never knew who was listening. Choose not to bitch about someone to your friend in a holding room, for you don't know if the person behind you is THAT person's best friend. Simpler advice for a simpler time.

So how to 'shut up' now on social media?

I choose not to participate. Facebook is NOT a safe space. This business is so small, and that forum is so accessible, there's a good chance that your catharsis, which could have involved a beef with a current or former industry pro, could find its way to said industry pro.

Don't get me wrong. There's power in the release of these negative feelings and memories. I just don't think that you're in a safe space opening up on Facebook about how Telsey never casts you.

It's part of why I have this creative outlet. I wanted to be able to express myself in a safe(r) space. I got tired of being told no, that I couldn't have an opportunity to create. I took the responsibility off others to allow me to create. I brought it right back to me. Where it belongs.

So in fairness to #shareyourrejection, I will share a story that literally just happened days ago:

I moved from NYC almost a month ago. But I haven't been active in the theatre audition scene for many more months. I've been focused on the move, getting us relocated, situated and set up here. But an appointment came along that I couldn't say no to. It was a dream role, short list, must-do-before-I-die type of role. The catch was I had to go back to NYC to audition. A no brainer, so I say yes.

I make my way to the city via car and train. I get there about 45 minutes early. I had spent lots of time with the materials, so I felt ready. I ran into a few people and had to have the 'yes I moved, but I am here for an audition for a show that is in the city I now live in' conversation. If anything, it was a welcome distraction for the fact that I haven't auditioned in a long time.

I knew most of the room going into the audition. I fortuitously met one of the key players in the hall right before. So I felt very comfortable coming in. I was also very aware that I was on the younger end of the age they were looking for.

So I went in to the room, and did what I do. I take in the room, am present and open, interact with other human beings, then do the work. The singing happened first and I felt I was on point with only one small crack, which I was able to joke about after. The table seemed happy and interested still.

I proceeded to the scene, and had a great reader. I was present and engaging in the scene, not having to look at the sides. I was given a fun redirect and took the scene in a completely different direction. It was a fresh take that I hadn't thought to do before, a tip of my hat to the director. I then was asked to step outside while they talked about me. I thanked everyone, looking them in the eyes, collected my things and walked away.

I knew that there was another song and scene I hadn't gotten to and that they would be having callbacks in an hour or so. I was prepared to stay if I had to, as I would have to train back to PA. I was also confident in the work that I had just presented. I felt I represented myself well on material that I am passionate about. It's kind of all I know to do.

Someone came out, walked up to me and said,

"Thanks Scott, we're all set."

(code for "No Callback")

No matter how good you feel about the work you just did, that sentence can pretty much take the air out of the room and the cool out of your walk. (And I fully recognize that sometimes no callback doesn't mean no job.)

I graciously thanked them for having me and started to change and head out. I had seen some of my favorite NY people before and wanted to give them a goodbye hug, as I don't know when I'll be back. One of them even insisted that we go grab a bite or some coffee. Normally, if it was just me, I would probably find a way to spiral into a depression fit right after. Something involving junk food or alcohol probably.

But thankfully, I would not be alone in the moments after this rejection. I spent the next hour catching up with one of my favorite industry colleagues. We laughed and chatted about life, not doing a post mortem of our appointments. I was gradually taken to a place where I forgot all about my audition.

I always tell my auditioners or students, that all you can do at an audition is:

Show up prepared and on time

Be a human being in the room

Do what you do to the best of your ability that day

Walk away

That's all you can do. I can't carry that with me anymore. I don't want the stress that comes from obsessing. If I eventually get it, great. I just know from being on the other side of the table, that once the door closes on the audition, the actor's work is done.

So I chalk this one up as a win. A new theatre company knows who I am and what I do and that I'm very close to them. That's how I choose to view this. As per many times in my life, I am just as grateful for the NO as I am the YES.

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