A friend of mine went to an audition recently. He was excited and well prepared, in a terribly realistic way. While he didn’t think he stood a very good shot he really wanted the director and others involved to get a glimpse of him and see what he was capable of. You never know.

I spoke to him after the audition and he was miserable. He had gone blank, even though he was well prepared. We spoke about it and he suggested that he he had walked into a really negative energy. Nobody had introduced themselves, or given him a chance to introduce himself. There was very little generosity in the space. And I just don’t get it.

Auditions are by their nature stressful. I have been to many and held even more. And when I am holding auditions I want everyone who walks into that room to be able to do and give their absolute best. It is my responsibility, regardless of whether I can see instinctively that they are wrong for the part, to give them my full, positive attention and to encourage the best out of them. I want to see the potential. I want to recognise the possibility. This doesn’t mean that I don’t get irritated with people who are unprepared, or with agents who clearly haven’t read the brief, or with actors who do Shakespeare for an industrial theatre audition. My end of the bargain is to create that positive space for all who come and ‘do something’ for me to see. That’s what I want when I go and audition.

So, when I hear horrible stories about directors (and producers and designers and managements) being the stereotypical sour pusses at auditions I can’t help but wonder how hideous the rehearsal process will be. And that’s the exact opposite of what any theatre experience should be. It should be a joy.