Non-Equity actors at Equity Auditions. She asks:
I really enjoy your website and I just read your article about attending EPAs as a non-union actor. I hope you don't mind my asking, but I am honestly not sure what to expect and I am hoping to attend a call next week. The details:
I'm currently non-union. I am planning on attending an EPA for a company that's casting most of its 2010-2011 season. The audition notice states the audition will be at the AEA center in NYC, and the audition starts at 9:30 am. What time should I arrive at the AEA center to have the best chances of putting my name at the top of the non-union list? Will I be sitting on a line outside of the building all day? Is there a waiting room? What if I need to go to the bathroom? I know this all seems a little silly, but I want to prepare myself as much as possible for the logistical aspects.
(Readers: please note that this response pertains to the logistics of the NYC Equity Building- some logistics may be different in your hometown...) Here’s my response:
Hi there! Great question- and I am very happy to help.
The time an actor should arrive at the Equity building varies for a lot of reasons. The more auditions being held that day, the bigger chance that lots of people will show up, so getting there early is recommended. The Equity building opens just before 8am- and though it seems that 1.5 hours before the audition would be plenty of time to get on the list, actors are often there much earlier. Depending on how popular the theater is, you may want to get there at 7 or 7:30am (you'll be waiting outdoors until the doors open.) Some shows, like Wicked and Rock of Ages, have people lining up as early as 5:30am.
Once inside, you'll put your name on the Non-Equity list and then you'll be free to get out of line. Normally, the monitor will tell the Non-Equity actors to come back at a certain time, after which they will know if the producers are seeing Non-Equity actors. Usually, with a start time of 9:30am, they'll ask you to come back at around 9:30am or 10am and then they'll give you an update. They will let you know as soon as they can if the producer opts against seeing non-union actors, that way you can move on with your day. At that point, you will be able to leave your headshot & resume for consideration.
As a Non-Equity actor, you'll remain in the 2nd floor waiting area where there are benches for you to wait to get into the Equity lounge. Non-Equity actors are invited into the lounge only when they've been given a time slot. As far as bathrooms- unfortunately, at the Equity building the bathrooms are located inside the lounge, which means they are only usable when the Non-Equity actor is given a time slot. Most Non-Equity actors, therefore, use the restrooms at McDonalds (just down the back stairs.) My favorite place to recommend if you have a little bit of time is one of the many hotels in the area (The Marriott Marquis, on 45th and 7th has a great set of bathrooms on the 8th Floor.) Of course, hotels are private properties so their facilities should be used with care, but I have never had an actor report back with any problems in using their restrooms.
The most frustrating thing you'll likely encounter is when they ARE seeing Non-Equity actors, but they don't get to your name on the list before the auditions are done. That does happen sometimes, and it is just something you'll have to deal with. To maximize my time, I always make sure to bring a industry related task to do while I am waiting for an audition slot. This could include:
• Writing Postcards (updates or thank you's)
• Updating my database
• Reading a play
• Reading industry blogs/publications
• Studying scenes/monologues for class
• Putting together a mailing
• Bringing my laptop and preparing "catch-up" emails for actors, writers, producers, directors that I haven't talked to in a while (Note: The AEA building did not have WIFI that last time I was there, so you'll have to send those emails when you find a connection.)
Ultimately, at the end of the day you will want to make sure you did everything you could to be seen, and that you filled your time wisely in the meantime so that it wasn't a waste of effort. Hopefully the suggestions above will give you some ideas to keep your spirits up. It's a really tough process for Non-Equity actors, but EPAs are a valuable tool and one I hope you'll continue to utilize.
I hope this has shed some light on what to expect at the EPAs next week. Please let me know if you have any other questions.
Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. To learn more, check out http://www.theactorsenterprise.org.