Play Nice

It’s been said before, here and elsewhere, and it’s worth saying again:

Who you are in the room outside the audition is important, too.

Not that there’s an epidemic or anything – thankfully the folks who run afoul of this guideline are in the minority. But there always seem to be a few…

Most people are nice to us inside the audition hall. They figure we can offer them a job. But when it comes to being courteous to the man or woman at the desk in the hallway, the range of behavior is much wider.

I am empathetic to a point. I know that you’re under stress at an audition. Actually, I can barely imagine. Transportation woes, nasty weather, fatigue, nerves. So I understand that it’s tough to be charming out there. But be polite. Civil. Even courteous. Because when you do get a job, there will be nerve-wracking rehearsals, long days, and plenty of times when you’ll be more stressed out than you are at this audition. And it will be even harder not to snap at stage management, make caustic comments about colleagues and take up more than your share of air in the room. And we will expect you to be civil, even courteous, under those conditions, too.

It’s a perennial debate, this push-and-pull between genius/talent and good citizenship. I’m on the plane on the way to San Francisco (thank you, gogoinflight internet), and I’ve just finished reading the Rolling Stone article on Steve Jobs, so this topic is hitting me from all angles. Much eulogizing has been done, for Jobs was clearly a icon and a revolutionary. But for much of his life, he was an infant terrible. If you’re that talented, do you get a free pass for terrorizing people and kicking them to the curb? If your talent is for taking the operatic stage and bringing beauty and inspiration to thousands of people in a theatre, do the little people in your life have to look the other way when they’re treated rudely?

Well, you know what my answer is. We all owe it to ourselves and the people in our orbit to suck it up as much as we can and not poison the air and energy around us.

But I’m not naive. (Well, I am, but that’s another topic.) I don’t expect people who we demand be regularly larger than life to disappear meekly into the woodwork when the curtain goes down. Those of us who work with artists embrace their flamboyance and eccentricities. But it has a limit. For some of us at least. It stops short of holding other people emotionally hostage, and civility starts here. Outside the audition hall.




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