I wish I could tell you all the pros and cons of working at Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre but, alas, I can only tell you about how I almost worked at Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre. Attend the tale, gentle readers, pull up a chair…here goes nothin’:
In February I received an email out of the blue from Fred Vaugueois (the Artistic Director) offering me a place in the rep company for the summer of 2015. I was surprised because I can’t remember ever even hearing of this company but Fred told me he had seen me at UPTA in 2014 (a full year before) and was interested. I thought it was odd as he hadn’t called me back but I must be THAT GOOD, right? I was intrigued as they’re doing a pretty good season (Music Man, Flea in Her Ear, and Proof).
Right from the start the correspondence was odd. I was particularly interested in “Proof” so I politely (polite, always polite) asked if I would be in that. His rambling reply went on and on about things like “we’re an ensemble here and there are no stars” and “How can I offer the role to you when the director hasn’t cast it yet”. I was pretty surprised he was surprised that an actor would want to know definitively the roles he was being hired for—actors act, after all. That’s the job. Also, in response to my question about housing, he wasn’t exactly sure as they hadn’t secured it yet. Warning bells started going off in my head…but DAMMIT, it’s such a good season and I love rep so surely it’ll all be alright!! Right?
I politely (polite, always polite) emailed him to please let me know when he’d decided how he wanted to cast.
Days go by. A pattern I quickly learned that was quite common with this guy. The warning bells are now clanging at a more insistent clip.
I get a mass email copied to every actor he’s offering contracts to saying he has been super busy so sorry for the delay but why does everyone keep asking what roles they’re going to be playing? I’m thinking—why did you not blind copy us (as I don’t want people to know my business in contract negotiations). It’s borderline unethical and AGAIN why are you surprised actors want to know the roles they’ll be expected to act?
Foreshadowing: His decision to copy us all on that email is one he probably regrets now. Details as to why at the end, gentle readers.
Finally he emailed me and offered me three good roles in the 3.5 month summer season. Good roles and he wants me for “Proof”. Excellent! I email him back immediately telling him that I’m going to look over my commitments and get back to him ASAP.
Dammit, I realize, I would have to give up some other well-paying work to do the whole summer that would put a serious financial hurt on me so I email Fred and politely (polite, always polite) ask him if there’s any way I can just do the last two shows and if not, I understandbutIjustwantedtocheck. Actually, the exact text of what I emailed is “If it is not [possible], I still will seriously consider taking the gig as I hear good things about SCRT and the roles are wonderful.”
He emails me back that no, that’s not possible and “I wish you the best in the future, and perhaps we may be able to work something out in the seasons to come.” Whoa, whoa, whoa, I quickly (but so damn politely) email back—I’m not declining the offer, I was just seeing if this alternate scenario was possible. I now know it’s not so let me see if I can make it work.
"Sure", I think, "he apparently has some reading comprehension issues but surely, SURELY, it’ll all be ok and good, right? Right?" Warning klaxons are starting to sound in my head but I am DETERMINED to do this role!
OK, I think. I’ll take the financial hit as the theatre doesn’t—contrary to Fred’s confident statement in his initial email—pay well and I’ll do the whole summer. So I email him and say, I’m very interested in the season.
Fred emails me the contract which says the theatre “will house” the actors. I email (demurely, always demurely) asking if he’d please tell me some details on the housing. I’m thinking to myself I’d like to know if I’m rooming alone; if I have to share a room for 3.5 months; if I’m being housed in a crack den with a rabid chimpanzee, etc. These things are part of the compensation and important, right?
Nothing. Warning sirens are wailing at full volume now.
I email (respectfully, always so effin’ respectfully) again in a day or two saying, I know you must be busy but as soon as we hear about the housing I’ll get the contract signed and returned to you because everything else sounds amenable and lovely.
5 days go by. Nothing. Nuclear test warning sirens are echoing across the landscape.
Then, patient fellow actors, I get this 2-sentence email:
“Considering your inability to sign our contract, I have offered the position to someone else. Sorry we weren't able to work things out for this season.”
Yes, you read that correctly.
And thus, dear friends, endeth my association with Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre.
So, in conclusion, it may be a good place to work. It may not. It may be an illegal organ-harvesting operation. Who knows? All I know is that the Fred Vagueois apparently has zero idea of how to deal professionally with professional actors. I should have known from the start when their website had the authors of “Proof” and “A Flea in her Ear” wrong that I was dealing with an amateur but I just so hoped to do that great season. I was lucky as I had several other theatres offering me roles and I had asked them to wait until this craziness was worked out. So I’m not out of work but others may not have been so lucky—so beware.
Oh, and you may recall I mentioned he probably was regretting copying all the actors he was offering contracts to on that one email? Well, it’s because I “replied to all” on that email and told this tale for Fred’s edification and theirs. Hey, it was the least I could do.
I know Fred got it as he corrected the authors on the website.
Thanks for bearing with me as I unspooled this epic story. Mazeltov, all, and have a fruitful 2015!
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