Dealing with Rejection in Theatre, Part III

Dealing with Rejection in Theatre, Part III

When You Get Negative Feedback


Whether you are an accountant, administrator or actor, receiving negative feedback is a challenging experience. For most people, it is the worst part of rejection in theatre. What do you do when someone says something bad about your work?

After processing the initial impact, you can search for positive feedback. But sometimes, the producer or director will simply tell you that your skills weren’t up to the job. Maybe you weren’t emotionally present during your audition. Perhaps you even sang off-key, or overacted. Your sense of failure might not be from rejection. It likely comes from not doing your best work.

But even doing your best is no guarantee for success in theatre. Playwrights know that their text may be amazing; yet, theatres will still find something wrong with it. Readers for literary departments often scrutinize plays, looking for small reasons to reject scripts. They will tell you there is not enough conflict or the characters are not fully realized. Worse, they may simply say that they are sick of seeing this type of play.

Is it fair? No, but there is no use protesting the rejection. After the initial blow subsides, consider if there is anything useful in the criticism. Maybe your play could use another rewrite. Do not change anything to please the person who rejected your work. Incorporate the criticism only if it strengthens your vision.

Actors can always use auditions as a way to improve their skills. Each audition is an opportunity to perform, even if it is in a limited way. If you find the process challenging, consider taking a class on auditioning. Many acting schools offer these classes. They will help you handle all the elements of the process, including introductions and monologue choices. You will even get tips on handling anxiety.

Whenever you receive negative criticism, ask yourself if it is true. Is it something you can control? If so, look for ways to become better. But do not take it personally. Part of creating art is allowing people to have their reactions to your work. Decide what you can change, and let the rest go. Your job is to become better, but that