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  • Writer's pictureValerie Terranova

How To Book A Dream Role

Valerie Terranova as #25 in Sarah DeLappe's THE WOLVES
Photo by Jarielle Whitney

How to Book a Dream Role:

In July 2015, turn on the Women’s World Cup Final in time to watch the US women win. Remember how much you miss playing soccer, how you gave it up because you thought sports were not something for people in the arts, how the world convinced you strength and sports weren’t part of what it meant to be female.

Immediately start playing soccer again for the first time in 10+ years. Go outside almost everyday to juggle and kick around a ball. Fall in love with the feeling of your heart pounding as you run, the way the ball feels at your feet, the meditative way it all feels when the summer breeze cools you down. The way being an athlete makes you feel strong and alive.

In May of 2016, see a casting notice for a new play called THE WOLVES, asking for a young female to play high school age, who has great soccer skills and can juggle for more than a minute. Submit to the notice saying you can do exactly that.

Spend weeks making up stories about why you weren’t called in and how maybe they haven’t had auditions yet until you see social media posts revealing that the show is already being rehearsed out of town.

See the show when it moves to New York. Realize a different role, #25, is right for you. Feel ecstasy over the beauty of what you saw: the symphonic writing you know you will need to hear again before you can fully absorb it; the portrayal of young women on stage in all their truth, showing us We Matter; the use of the sport you love to tell a story of us all.

Feel anxious, unseen, and sometimes depressed over not being able to be a part of it. While the girl playing the part you’re right for is amazing, how could you not even get an audition? If you can’t get in the door for something you feel so uniquely right for, how will you ever be seen? How do you get into the rooms you think you belong in with all of the gatekeepers in your way? How do you make your voice heard?

Set a Google alert as regional theaters announce they’re putting on the play. Email and call casting departments at those theaters. Watch weeks go by as those emails get ignored.

Research the directors putting on those productions. Find the email for one director. Email her telling her why you think you should be seen.

Get an email from the casting department of that production asking you to put yourself on tape by the next day at 11am. Head in to work to wait tables that night. Try to read the script on the way home before passing out.

Meet with a casting director who helps you put the assigned sides on tape. You’re so perfect for this it’s crazy, she says. You should send this video to other theaters as well, she says. They’ll probably watch—I would, she says.

Submit your audition. Watch the weeks go by as you make up reasons why they probably didn’t see the video.

Send the video to other theaters putting on productions. Watch the weeks go by as you make up reasons why they probably didn’t see the video.

Do lots of other theater and talk to everyone and anyone about how badly you want to do this show.

Months go by.

In the summer of 2017, get a text from a colleague linking to an Actors Access breakdown for the show. It’s the same production you submitted a video to several months ago. It’s the same casting director who didn’t call in you back in May of 2016. You submit anyway.

Thinking about how you were ignored the last two times, pick up the phone and call the casting office. Tell them you think you’re right for it and you need to send your stuff in. The very nice woman on the phone tells you who to address your picture and resumé to when you mail it in.

Thinking about all the things that could go wrong with snail mail, instead march into the casting office the next day. Introduce yourself to the woman you spoke to on the phone and hand her your headshot, resume and cover letter. She smiles and promises to get it to the casting director. You feel like she’s on your side.

Get an email two hours later telling you to come in next week for an audition. Maybe she is on your side.

Show up the following Thursday to read for this major New York casting office. When you finish, the Casting Director--the same one who didn't call you in over a year ago--smiles and says “Well, you obviously get this character.” You feel seen.

Get a callback the next week. Show up and read. The director, who saw your tape months ago is there. She remembers you but doesn’t seem impressed. She talks about the character in a way that doesn’t make sense to you. You ask if you should read again. She says no thanks. You leave, trying to weave together a story about why you will still be called back again.

Final callbacks are scheduled for the following day. You hear nothing. You weave together stories about why you may still have hope.

Your inbox lights up with an alert that the New York production will be remounted a second time. The entire original cast remains intact except the person playing #25. You believe this is fate.

You call the new casting office. The person on the phone snaps at you, tells you to show up to the open call like everyone else, and hangs up on you. Maybe you shouldn't have called.

You show up to the open call and get squished into a time slot meant for 10 people that is filled with 20. You are asked to read less of the script than they provided. The people behind the table barely look up to acknowledge you. You feel unseen.

Months go by. Casting is announced. For the New York mounting. For the out of town productions you tried to audition for. For the out of production you DID audition for.

It's fall of 2017. You see the New York production again. It’s as amazing as ever. Exuberance. Longing. Frustration. How do you break down the doors that won't open?

In March of 2018, an alert pops up in your inbox again, this time about a production happening at Lyric Stage Company of Boston. They’re having an open call for their entire season. You can audition with sides of your choosing from any play in their season.

You work late one night, get up before dawn, and travel 4+ hours to Boston to go the theater’s open call. You show up dressed in your soccer gear. You read the same sides assigned to you in the last audition you didn't book.

You read. Your audition couldn’t last more than 3-4 minutes. The room is welcoming. Everyone seems nice. You feel seen again.

A couple of months go by. You’re not making up stories to give you false hope anymore. Maybe just didn’t get cast again.

May arrives. There’s an email in your inbox title “The Wolves Callback”. Another day trip to Boston. 9 hours round trip.

A few weeks pass. You turn 30. You're auditioning for a 17 year old. You’re probably too old. But you’re asked for one more callback.

Another day trip to Boston. You stand on the stage of the theater. You give your final read. The director gives you an adjustment that makes you think she understands the character in the way you understand her. You chat a little. It feels right. You get on a bus back to New York. 9 hours round trip.

The weekend passes. You no longer are waiting to hear. This time you are offered the role.

My heart is filled with so much gratitude that I finally get to be one of the voices in the symphony of female voices that make up THE WOLVES. I am telling the story of a character I love in one of the great plays of our generation, alongside the most supportive and inspiring teammates, our incredible Soccer Mom, an all-female design team, and lead by the visionary A. Nora Long.

This first weekend of performances has been a dream. I can’t wait to tell this story again come Wednesday, and for the next three weeks. I hope you will join us.  #WeAreTheWolves

Valerie, #25


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