Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I don't know how to write a rejection letter.

The good news was that Gaslight had a fantastic turnout for auditions for Bell, Book & Candle, the first show of our 2009 season (which I am directing).

The bad news is that Bell, Book & Candle has only five roles.

So this morning I've been sending out emails to all the talented people I didn't choose for this production, and there's no way to do this without feeling like a jerk. I cast an ensemble, a group of people I thought would work well with each other, and whom I thought would work well with me. As individual actors, they might be better or worse than any of the other 20 people who auditioned, but at bottom it's an arbitrary decision based on my own personal tastes.

And that's the problem. It may surprise those of you who think of me as opinionated (shut up, I know you do), but I have a hard time making choices, sometimes to the point of paralysis. Every choice sacrifices certain possibilities, and I have a terrible time letting those possibilities go.

I hate to say "no" worse than almost anything -- worse than throwing up, even, which I really, really hate. How do you get good at saying, "No, thank you"?

Five Random Songs

"Something's Gotta Give," Ella Fitzgerald. I love it when iTunes gives me music that matches the blog. "When an irresistible force such as you/Meets an immovable object such as me..."

"Guinnevere," Crosby, Stills & Nash. At one time in my life, I listened to this song a lot. A lot.

"Prairie Fire that Wanders About," Sufjan Stevens. A dreamy choral piece from Illinois.

"The Heinrich Maneuver," Interpol. The single off this album (Our Love to Admire). I particularly like the bridge near the end of this song -- "I've got a chance for a sweet sane life..."

"Miles from Nowhere," The Smithereens. Jangly guitar rock, reminiscent of late-60s psychedelia.


Tom Ehrenfeld said...

I think the key is just accepting that regardless of how nicely you craft the letter, a rejection is a rejection. Individuals will either understand this or not. The point of the letter is to let them know "thanks so much for your interest, but I can't use you in this role." I would recommend not making much of an effort to explain why, and in fact don't explain at all if possible because then you are opening up a conversation that you don't want to have. Just thank them graciously, again, say nothing about why they were rejected, and if you really do like them, find something nice to say about them personally, and see if they might be interested in participating in some other manner. Tell them about upcoming shows or other potential things they can try out for.

And the sooner the better.

Larry said...

I agree with Tom's comments. As the owner of an impressive stack of rejections, I can only single out one or two that were done well. They had all teh elements Tom suggested they were polite.