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The Green Room: How do you deal with the wait after an audition?

‘The way to handle the wait after an audition is to obsess for a short permissible time, talk to someone who will listen, then stop and forget’. Photo: Shutterstock ‘The way to handle the wait after an audition is to obsess for a short permissible time, talk to someone who will listen, then stop and forget’. Photo: Shutterstock

Meet our panel: We have given our panellists pen-names and used stock images but their biographies reflect their real career details…​​​​​​​​​​

Gary Abblett is a 38-year-old jobbing actor with experience at the National, RSC, in the West End and on the road

Abi Egerman is in her 20s and has appeared at the Old Vic, the National Theatre, and in regional rep

John Pepper is 31 and for the past 10 years has worked as an actor in regional theatres, the National and in radio, television and film

Beryl Phoenix is in her 40s. She has played leading roles at the RSC, worked on new plays, and toured both nationally and internationally

Peter Quince is a 72-year-old actor working in theatre and television


Abi I give myself a grace period of a day or two to muse on it, then try to put it to the back of my mind. After a week, my rule is to assume it hasn’t gone my way. This is purely for self-preservation.

John It entirely depends on how much I want it. It can be on a scale from clawing the walls to completely forgetting about it.

Peter You have to get on with your life and assume you probably haven’t got it.

JonI think assuming you haven’t got it is the most important thing. But it’s so hard, dammit.

Peter I’m not always right, but I often have a pretty good idea how it’s gone.

Gary The way to handle it is to obsess for a short permissible time. Talk to someone who’ll listen. Then, stop. And forget.

Beryl Yes, try to just forget – especially if it’s TV. So many people have to ‘okay’ you, you’re bound to not get it, right?

John I’m generally good for the time directly afterwards, but then it creeps in like a fog and completely envelopes me.

Peter The best ones are when you get a phone call before you’re even back on the train.

Beryl Get on with life, make shit, stay creative. Try to believe it’s not all in someone else’s hands, that you have a degree of autonomy. Not saying that’s easy, though.

Peter It’s good if you’re busy and not sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring.

Abi I don’t throw away the scripts – just in case – until the cast list comes out.

JonI always keep any sides in my bag until I know one way or another. I don’t delete them from my desktop either. Insanity – but it always feels important.

Abi Also, I have to print stuff at my local internet caff and the price per page has gone up, so…

John I know people who throw the sides in the bin in the casting office. A physical and symbolic gesture that helps with the mind games. Expensive if you use an iPad for sides.

Peter Of course, a lot of it is encrypted now – so you can’t print it off.

John That really must stop. I end up taking a screen shot on my phone anyway, and printing it off as a picture. It’s ridiculously insulting. Sign a non-disclosure agreement, watermark it, whatever, but I demand the right to scribble on my sides.

Abi I am working on trying to not get too cross when you hear nothing at all – but it still riles me. Especially for theatre when you might have prepped three scenes and two songs and done X amount of background research, taken the day off work, then you don’t even hear a “thanks, but no thanks”.

JonI don’t think you need to work on “not getting too cross”. It’s something we should stop putting up with: it’s people getting pissed off that is sloooowly leading to change.

John You are right on with that, Abi. The #YesOrNo campaign seems to be helping to change that.

Leading theatres and casting directors sign up to #YesOrNo audition campaign

JonI think the wait is hardest when you’re in that most vulnerable of positions, ‘in the mix’. I have been waiting to hear on a cracking job, after an audition I know went really well, because they need to confirm who would be playing my daughter. It’s hard to assume you haven’t got it in that scenario. (Note: I didn’t!)

John Yeah, the terminology of casting directors can be frustrating. ‘In the mix’, ‘pencil’, ‘heavy pencil’, none of that is good for the head – just tell us yea or nay.

Abi I now assume that ‘in the mix’ almost definitely means no.

Beryl But better than the dreaded, “We’ve gone in a different direction.” Yuk.

Peter Some casting directors complain it’s too much work (“We’d need more staff”). But you can send out a one-word polite refusal to a list of people in a click. Takes minutes.

JonI really wouldn’t object to being told that it has been offered to someone else and that if he says no, it’s mine. That is much better than being in the dark for a fortnight.

John I completely agree, I just want a damn job! I don’t care if it’s sloppy seconds.

Beryl I’ve made a career out of sloppy seconds!

John Or thirds, or fourths. Although it would put an end to the ego-boosting of producers saying on the first day of rehearsals: “You were all our first choice for the job.”

Peter It’s good if other work comes up. Then you have an excuse to ring and ask.

JonI’m awful when it comes to finding excuses to contact my agent when I’m waiting on something. “I was thinking of writing to such and such a casting director, do you think it’s a good idea? Also, any news?”

Beryl “…is there anything…?” My agent smells me out every time!

John I’m sure it’s one of the most irritating things for agents. “Um, no John, we obviously would have let you know, it’s our job.”

JonDoes anyone else have any weird behaviour that only crops up during the wait?

Beryl What, like: “The man who served me in the shop had odd socks on – I’ve definitely got the job!”?

JonYes, or: “If I get past this lamp post before that car overtakes me…”

Beryl I have odd behaviours already! They are possibly more extreme during the waiting time.

Gary Here’s some weird behaviour: I sometimes spend the forthcoming money, which then never comes.

Abi After the biggest audition I ever had, I never stepped on any cracks in the pavement until I heard what the decision was. Great news was, I got the job. Terrible news was, I damned myself into never being able to stand on another pavement crack for the rest of my life.

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