I’ve signed. I actually signed a little while ago, but I didn’t really know if it was interesting enough to deserve a mention here… I now bring it up because it’s allowed me into the casting rooms, and occasionally living rooms, of  an interesting group - the casting directors.

We’ve had a few casting directors come into school to talk to us over the last few terms and they’ve all said the similar things. Things like: “We’re here to help you” or “We want you to get the job as much as you do”. I’m sure this is true for the majority, but once in a while you have an experience that reminds you how challenging the industry can be for fledgling actors.

I would love to tell you who it was I met, and what it was for, but for the sake of professionalism I shouldn’t. Needless to say, it was a meeting for a small part in a fairly popular, fairly new comedy show. As happens, I wasn’t the only one auditioning for the part – I don’t know how many people they were seeing, but I would imagine quite a lot given that I knew most of the people in the waiting room either from my own year, or the ones who graduated last year.

Before I even got into the audition room I was thrown by one graduate telling me that he’s had so much work since he left “though it might sound stupid”, (and yes, for the record, it does) he’s actually in need of a holiday. Apparently going from West End show to West End show is tiring. It’s actually perfectly reasonable to want a holiday - I’m just jealous.

When I got into the room I dutifully read the part I had been told to prepare, as well as I might’ve hoped to. As soon as I had finished, the casting director, who had yet to speak to me other than to say hello, picked up another script from the table and passed it across to me. “Here” she said, her voice an unusual sound in the room “why don’t you have a read of this part instead? This character’s a bit more obviously gay."

I took the hit, and quickly flicked through the script, for no more than five minutes, before going on tape. Apparently she wasn’t interested in preparation. Nor was she interested in the scenes at all, but asked me to deliver all of the characters lines, in order, to camera, no matter how far apart they came in the script. Someone with self respect might’ve protested, but being new, inexperienced and feeling under confident I became a number on her page, as I sold three years of training down the river and played ‘camp’. I left the building feeling like I’d lost any integrity I might’ve had.

It’s an odd one, because you can’t really do anything about it other than hope that one day you’ve got enough clout behind you that you don’t have to put your self through cattle calls; but then maybe that’s what keeps it fresh. Kerry Ellis on The Voice last weekend was a surprise, but what a brave (and humble) move from her. She saw an opportunity and was prepared to take a public knocking for it, and good on her!

Luckily I’m still at a stage to be able to write off bad auditions as ‘good experience’… but with graduation looming I’m not sure how long that’ll last!