(Ranting Against the) Theater Survey

So there’s this Theater Survey that’s been making the rounds, asking all sorts of random questions about life as an actor which I suppose was intended to make those who answer it seem interesting. I dunno. It’s pretty obvious to me it was intended for professional actors (I don’t know a single amateur actor who refers to what they do as “show business”), and even then I’m not sure it’s asking anything of those people that anybody else would find all that interesting. Plus, it’s structured like it was put together by someone with severe ADD, with no flow to the order of questions. So, seeing as how I need a break from what I’m working on and find myself in a cynical mood, rather than answer it like a good little lemming, I will instead rip it apart.

(With apologies to those who HAVE answered it. It’s not your answers I hated. It’s the survey itself.)

REAL NAME:

STAGE NAME:

Clue number one that this was not intended for those of us in community theater that do this for kicks rather than a career. The ONLY people I know who use a name on their resume other than that which is found on their driver’s license are the occasional women who use their maiden name rather than their married name. Even then, who cares? If I didn’t already know your name, I wouldn’t be reading your silly answers, now would I?

LAST SHOW YOU ADDED TO YOUR RESUME:

Later on it asks you what the last part you played was, so I presume the purpose of this one is to expose what we consider “resume worthy”. Personally, I don’t include 10 minute plays or staged readings on my resume, but I’m also extremely lucky, because I have a heartbeat and a penis, so I can have a full resume without having to list every project I’ve ever been associated with. It’s the benefit of being a man in a time and place where there are apparently not enough men. That being said, what’s so interesting about the LAST one you added? Talk about random.

LAST SHOW YOU AUDITIONED FOR:

DID YOU GET INTO IT:

First off, why weren’t theses asked before “Last show you added to your resume”? The audition happens before the resume credit, so logically it should be asked first. Anyway, this pair basically exists to either make your feel awesome or like a loser, depending on how that last audition went. And what does is say about you? Nothing. Why not ask me how I FELT about my last failed audition? Wouldn’t that be a more interesting answer than a meaningless show name and a simple “yes” or “no”?

LAST SONG YOU USED AT AN AUDITION:

This might be interesting, provided the person answering gives you the context of said audition. The song choice itself is meaningless without knowing WHY you chose it. And why all the love for musicals? How about the last monologue you used at an audition?

FAVORITE THEATRE (VENUE) THAT YOU HAVE PERFORMED IN:

Relatively harmless, as a building rarely has feelings you can hurt.

FAVORITE MUSICAL:

Again, where’s the “Favorite Play” question? Why one and not the other? And if you’re going to ask the question, at lease demand to know “why” while you’re at it, otherwise it’s just a name of a show. I read these things and I go, “Gee, so-and-so likes Oklahoma. Whoopty doo.” Defend your choice and suddenly you’ve got my interest.

NAME A THEATRE SUPERSTITION:

Nice idea, but who wrote the question itself, Richard Dawson? Are we on Family Feud? Most superstitions aren’t even named. Is simply typing “Macbeth” a suitable answer? What if you’re one of those rare theater people who don’t know that one? And for that matter, are there any other theater superstitions that are THAT universal? I know I’m nitpicking the use of the English language, but so be it. The question should read something more like, “Describe one of your theater superstitions”.

LAST PART YOU PLAYED IN A SHOW:

Why is this way down here rather than up top with the questions about what you auditioned for and what you put on your resume? The only way any of those three questions are all that interesting is if they’re lumped together, and even then only if the answers are different.

YOUR GOAL IN SHOW BUSINESS:

Okay, so obviously a question for professionals. I mean, I don’t want to speak for EVERYONE in the amateur ranks, but don’t we all have pretty much the same goals? What are we going to learn here? Anyone hoping to use that two week run in “Pirates Of Penzance” as a stepping stone to a political career? Given the amount of photos that are out there of most of us in ridiculous costumes, I’d say it’s gonna have the opposite effect.

FAVORITE DIRECTOR:

Right. So I can hurt the feelings (however slight) of those who I *don’t* pick? I’ll pass.

WHAT WAS YOUR VERY FIRST SHOW:

This is actually an interesting question, so I’ll let it stand. Although I pray that when you answer, you elaborate by telling us the details of how it came about and how it went down.

HAVE YOU EVER HAD A DANCE SOLO:

HAVE YOU EVER HAD A SINGING SOLO:

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN THE LAST PERSON TO TAKE A BOW:

If you answer “no”, you’re a loser. We’d just thought we’d remind you of the fact that you’ve never been more than a bit player. Oh, and if you answer “yes”, well then you’re a raging egomaniac who needs to get over themselves. Thanks for playing!

NAME A SHOW YOU’VE DONE MORE THAN TWO TIMES:

Okay, this is a good question, but why the hell isn’t this down on the list with “show you would never do again” and “show you could do for years” and the like? Aren’t they all related questions? This is so frustrating.

HAVE YOU BEEN TO LA:

How about New York? Or Topeka? Or Sheboygan, Wisconsin? The question, as asked, isn’t even about acting. At least phrase it so that you’re asking whether the person has ever gone to LA in an attempt to break into film, or don’t ask it at all.

SCARIEST PART OF AN AUDITION:

BEST PART OF AN AUDITION:

Solid questions. Although I would have asked “best” before “scariest”, but that’s me.

NAME A SHOW YOU WOULD NEVER DO AGAIN:

NAME A SHOW YOU COULD DO FOR YEARS:

NAME A SHOW YOU WOULD LOVE TO DO BUT HAVE NEVER BEEN IN:

These are fine. I only wish it asked MORE questions like this.

NAME A PERSON YOU’D LIKE TO WORK WITH AGAIN:

See earlier question about Director, which also points to the obvious: it should have been asked WITH said question. Also should be asked with the one about “Most Difficult”. Seriously, did they write down a bunch of questions and throw them in a hat to pick the order?

WHAT ARE YOU AUDITIONING FOR NEXT:

I’ll leave this one alone even though I think its more trouble than it’s worth.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PERFORMING:

Is it me, or shouldn’t this have been the FIRST QUESTION ASKED?!? Not for nothing, but there’s actually a logic to the order of questions that helps the human brain answer. This stupid survey should have started with questions about your past, and then branched into the future. The complete randomness of this thing is infuriating.

DO YOU CARRY YOUR HEADSHOTS AROUND WITH YOU:

What is the purpose of this question? I mean, sure, I laugh at people who answer “yes” because it sounds silly to say you carry a headshot around like a business card. (hey, you never know when you might bump into a potential director while buying kumquats at the local health food store). But truth be told, all it really says about you is that you’re prepared, which is hardly a bad thing.

DO YOU KEEP IN TOUCH WITH PAST CAST MEMBERS:

Is there ANYONE on the PLANET who would EVER answer “no” to this? If you do, you’re such an anti-social douche bag that I find it hard to believe you’ve ever actually DONE theater.

ON A SCALE OF 1-10 HOW IMPORTANT IS GETTING PAID:

Amateur actors don’t get paid. Stupid question.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE PERFORMANCE:

WHAT’S SOMETHING EMBARRASSING OR UNEXPECTED THAT HAPPENED TO YOU WHILE ON STAGE.

These two are fine, and represent the kind of questions the entire survey should have been made of.

WHO IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PERSON (ON STAGE OR OFF) THAT YOU HAVE EVER WORKED WITH:

Please burn any bridges here. Thank you, come again.

EVER BEEN NAKED ON STAGE?:

Okay, why is this not down in the “Onstage, have you ever…” section?

IF YOU COULD BE A RICH FAMOUS PORN STAR OR A STRUGGLING THEATRE ACTOR WHICH WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

Does this question presume that porn is a legitimate alternative to “acting”? Anyone who gets into adult movies because they think it’s the first step to a Hollywood career obviously doesn’t have the brain power to read this survey, much less answer it, so the question is pointless. Besides, even if you’re of the mind that porn is degrading, don’t you have to at least admit it’d be nice to be considered hot enough to get into the biz in the first place?

BEST PROFESSIONAL SHOW(S) YOU’VE SEEN:

BEST AMATEUR/COMMUNITY SHOW(S) YOU’VE SEEN:

Good enough, but again, why not ask them to elaborate? I’m surprised by the number of these things I’ve read where the person who answered stuck to the bare minimum.

ONSTAGE, HAVE YOU EVER…

a) Been killed?

b) Been drunk / stoned?

c) Played someone half your age?

d) Played someone twice your age?

e) Cried?

f) Fired a gun?

g) Driven a car?

h) Been drenched?

i) Been in a dream sequence?

j) Been kissed?

Umm… driven a car? Seriously? Even if you HAVE done a show where you pretended to be driving while on stage, of what possible interest is that to anyone? “OOOH! Really? I wish *I* could say that!” What’s next? “Have you ever used a stove on stage? Or pretended to be in a rainstorm? Have you ever done any everyday-type activities on stage?”. Yawn. The rest are mildly interesting provided the person answering give more than a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Otherwise it’s just a tease.

IF YOU WERE ON BROADWAY RIGHT NOW, WHAT SHOW WOULD YOU WANT TO BE IN AND WHAT ROLE WOULD YOU PLAY?

How is this different from asking what show you’d like to do someday? Aside from the fact that this apparently narrows that down to what happens to be currently playing on Broadway at the moment? Which in itself is a stupid qualifier because what’s so special about the shows that are currently playing? And why is this question last?

What a truly retarded survey. Dumb questions thrown together without rhyme or reason, rarely asking for the truly interesting part of the answer that might actually reveal something about the person we’d care to learn. I enjoyed the “25 Random Things About Me” thing that went around because the answers said so much about the people, not just because it was stuff I often didn’t know, but because the types of answers and depth of description said as much about the person as the answers themselves. This theater one is lazy and uninteresting, which is twice the crime considering theater people are supposed to have a better sense of themselves than this crap.

Rant over.

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