Alternate Casting


3589913172_437e4e7412_oI’m writing a play for particular actors and loving it. I see them so well in my mind’s eye – I play to their strengths, I can hear their voices saying the words as I type them. It’s like falling in love – I have come to see those roles as belonging to THEM. No voice but his… no other eyes, only HERS.


I find out that there’s a possibility that I won’t be able to have the actor I imagined.  I am like an abandoned lover. “Ah, it won’t be the same.”


I try to imagine my play (myself) with another. He’s too young, he’s too big; he’s too….not the guy I want.  My attachment to my ideas is getting in my way.  I have to be an adult about this.


I am always fascinated by that junction between being an adult and being a free spirit. I love that free spirit part of me, the one with the big ideas, the one who takes risks. Free spirit flows out when I work on this play, when I see the plot unfold. The plot is generated by the characters, and though they are all fictional people made up out of bits and pieces of me and my life, they are also flavored by the actors I know, who are already acting the roles in my head. So a merging has begun of me, the writer and creator of the story, and the characters, and by extension, the actors who I’ve based them on.  I’m sure this is a common occurrence.


On a related note, I am directing a couple of short 2-person plays right now, for an evening of short plays.  An actor had to drop out at the last minute. Normally I’d go into alternate casting mode, but I can’t this time. With only a week before opening, I have to cut those two plays, and apologize to the scene partner left hanging, because there’s no time to recast.  I also have to scramble to fill up 20 minutes in the program.  I pull out a monologue that I’ve performed recently, and start working that up, and hoping that another actor/writer in the show underestimated the length of her set.


Just then, a young and handsome intern comes by to pick up flyers, talking about his rehearsal this afternoon.  We talk about scene partners and other actor stuff, and it hits me –maybe my intern could fill in for my actor? After all, my intern IS an actor – but I had failed to consider him while in my alternate casting mode, because he’s my intern, and we are new to each other.  It may indeed be too late – this intern/actor may not be able to learn and rehearse the scene in time, or the other actor in the scene may have already made other plans.


But, standing there, considering this eager young actor in my hallway, I think about how many tricks of fate, even very small ones, lead to big things. And I think how little it takes to encourage any one of us, when we are passionate about our art.


I sent the intern the scenes. I hope he likes them.




2 thoughts on “Alternate Casting

  1. I am with you all the way here, Cheryl. Many times I have a particular color, or frame, or chair, or whatnot in mind for a design I’m doing for a client. It’s perfect! And they hate it. Or they had something entirely different in mind. And, because the design and the client are more important, I let my ego go as best I can. The amazing thing is that the obstacles turn to gold and the design is usually better. It’s all about trusting the process. Thank you for the reminder!

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