I’ve been asked several times recently if I have a blog post out on many different questions surrounding the industry.
I’d like to take this (down) time during the “off” season to address some of these FAQ.
Let’s start today with the studios. Auditioning as a non union actor can be tough. I know, I’ve been to 140 plus auditions this season. That is, I’ve signed up for that many. I’ve been seen at a little over fifty of them. So what does that mean as a non union actor moving to the city?? How does one even go about signing up.
Here’s the highs and the lows of audition sign ups, my friends. I didn’t make the rules, just reporting back. I can give some tips along the way of how I make the experience a bit more enjoyable but the most important thing about auditioning (especially as a non union actor) is finding the joy in it every day.
So here we go: The Studios. I’m going to start by listing the typical studio spaces around the city and how one goes about securing a slot on the unofficial list.
ACTORS EQUITY BUILDING:
The Actors Equity Building is a beautiful audition space located at 46th and Broadway. The building itself opens at 6am (or roughly there about) and requires an I.D. to gain access to the 4th floor where you sign the “official, unofficial list”. There will be a monitor there to check in EMC and non union actors may sign up on the unofficial list.
Earlier on in the season (January-end of April) this place stays crowded. Lines begin forming before the building opens so in order to be in the first 20 to sign up I’d suggest arriving somewhere between 5-5:30. Yes, its crazy that an actor needs to be up that early just to secure a slot on a list that isn’t necessarily even going to make it up to the 16th floor but the odds of getting seen if you sign up in the first twenty are better than the alternative. I’ve been in calls where I was #9 and they saw 8. It’s a numbers game but it’s also about knowing your limits. If it’s a particularly busy week, maybe don’t sign up for all of them and take a day for yourself cause this kind of shit can make ya cray. (:
Later in the season (May-December) the calls become less busy so I usually arrive anywhere from 6am-8:30 depending on the call.
Also, please note- non union stays on the 4th floor (sky lobby) in the holding room until casting calls down (the monitor) and says one of a few possible things
we will see non union time permitting, please have them wait until we call again
we will see non union but tell them to return after lunch
we will not see non union but we are accepting drop offs (you can leave your headshot/resume with casting)
we will not be seeing non union and we are not accepting drop offs (booooo on both- jk it happens.)
or the treasured - we will see non union today please send them up to the 16th floor
At which time, all non union will proceed to the 16th floor. The 16th floor is for members and emc only until we’re called upon. We remain in another holding room until the monitor comes and collects headshots of the few they will call for the next group. Until that point we, as non union, are not even allowed to use the restrooms upstairs so be sure to pee accordingly. If the monitor comes, calls your name, and you’re on the 4th floor applying make up, that’s it, you’ve missed your slot so try to gamble the time only when it’s crucial.
P.S. once your name has been called and you’re back by the audition room, you may use the equity restrooms on the 16th floor….Idk man, they pay dues. (:
Pearl 500 is located at 35th and 8th while it’s sister (519) is located right across the way. Pearl 500 opens at 7am where the security guard at the front desk holds the “official unofficial lists”. Non union actors have to wait in line around the building until the 7am open time to sign up. EMC also form a line to sign up by they have to wait until around 8am for the monitor to arrive to check their cards and sign them in.
Pearl 500 has three floors 3rd, 4th, and 12th. I suppose you could argue four floors as I’ve heard mention of a penthouse where they bring you in for the Broadway callbacks. Spoiler alert, I have yet to see the penthouse…though not for lack of trying. (:
EPA’s and ECC’s
EPA sign up hierarchy: Union members with appointments, Union members without appointments (Alternate List A), Union members with appointments who would like to be seen earlier but want to also keep their appointment time just in case (Alternate List B), EMC, then…you guessed it, non union.
ECC sign up hierarchy: Union members who signed up online must arrive a half hour before the call starts to accept a number once their name is called (it’s truly amazing- 200 people could be signed up online but only 50 show up), Union members without a slot sign up next, EMC and non union are combined in this call so both sign up on the unofficial list in the morning.
Also note, Equity Chorus Calls are separated by male and female, dancers and singers. Most ECC’S have 4 breakdowns, Male singers, Male dancers, Female singers, and Female dancers.
Pearl 519 opens at 6am however, this, like the next few studios I will list, accept unofficial taped up lists. There’s no monitor or security guard for non union sign ups like the two above. Earlier, during the busier parts of the season, non union actors will tape up lists in the wee hours of the morning. And by tape up, I mean literally taped to the wall outside of the building. When the building opens at 6am the list is then taken off the wall, upstairs to the 12th floor and when the monitor arrives later in the morning the list is transferred to an official, unofficial list.
For EMC they still have to wait in a line until the monitor arrives as she has to see your card to sign you up.
In Pearl 519 there’s only the one floor, 12. Please note that in the busy season some will begin the list very, very early particularity for Broadway calls. It’s a bit of an honors system that no one starts a list the night before but it has happened….and unfortunately will continue to happen but it’s not too often.
About midway through the season, when we’re all tired of standing out in the cold and waking up mad early to sign up, people will bitch on audition update about how flawed the system is but sadly, it’s not changing any time soon and in most of these cases the early bird does in fact get the worm so don’t be that person. Again, take time for yourself and try to find the joy.
Ripley Grier has several locations, including 36th and 8th, 38th and 8th, 72nd and Broadway, and a small studio at 56th and 8th. Every location accepts a taped up unofficial list unless the call itself specifically specifies that it will not and you are required to check in with the monitor of the call. Fingerlakes Theatre, in particular, requires it’s actors to check in for its open call every season. *PS this call is a nightmare and arriving extremely early is required if you truly want to get seen. I am hopeful that this years call was a good indicator for them that they need more than one day next season, but that’s another blog article.
Once the main Ripley (520 8th ave) building has opened everyone who enters must present an ID so be aware. This studio has 3 floors including 10, 16, and 17. The pricing for studio space is also generally cheaper here.
located at 44th and 8th is a newer studio space that has been housing a few more of the Broadway auditions this season. They, like Ripley, accept a taped up unofficial list. The building opens at 8am.
OPEN JAR STUDIOS:
located on Broadway between 48th and 49th, this is the newest space to open up for actors AND it’s gorgeous. The rooms are spacious and bright and brand new. The current entrance is on 48th (due to construction), and from what I can tell they do allow taped up lists in the early morning hours.
OTHER STUDIOS TO NOTE:
There are a few more audition studio spaces that are not as commonly used for large audition calls I will list.
Shetler (usually appointment based)
Telsey and Co.
The Growing Studio (some EPA’s/ECC’s- usually accept unofficial non union lists)
* A couple of things to note about almost all of the larger studio spaces- they have printing available, staplers and paper trimmers for Headshots/Resumes, Microwaves to reheat lunch, coffee (for 1.00) and other snack items, and lots of seating. If you’re non union (or EMC), these are all important because some days you really do camp out at the studios. Meet some friends, share some laughs, don’t get too psyched out over auditions (there will be so many more), and try to find the joy of being a non union actor. (:
Happy Auditioning, friends!