I hate the term “The Other Side of Table.” Throughout history, tables have been a place where people of all walks of life come together to eat, converse, create art, share goods, make strategies, and most importantly look each other in the eyes. We “bring our ideas the to the table,” “lay our cards on the table,” and “turn the tables.” All of these phrases involve communication with another person --- not separation from them.
But somehow, in the entertainment industry, we have turned “the table” into a huge and fearsome wall. The “table” is a place that separates actors and other creatives --- a huge brick object that becomes more terrifying when mixed with an artist’s imagination. The term pushes an agenda and is not conducive to creating good art in an audition setting. It not only implies “other” --- it flat out sates it. It says, “You are one thing and we are another. Ask for permission to join us.” On the flip side, it also allows artist’s insecurities to run wild and gives them a clear enemy to blame when things don’t go exactly their way. This simple, and seemingly innocent, phrase creates an ‘Us vs. Them’ mentality before the work even begins.
This phrase is such a prime example of how words matter. The phrases we use repetitively affect everything we create, how we do business, and how the business of creation progresses forward. Perhaps if we changed the phrase to, the people “at the table” that mighty wall might begin to crumble. If we created language that implied that everyone in an audition room is there to meet “at the table” to convene and create together --- then fear and finger pointing might not run quite so rampant.
I know this might not be a popular opinion amongst the entertainment community. For some actors, the physical and emotional barrier makes it easier to have separation from the business side of the arts. It allows the audition to be less personal. For some CDs the language might do the same --- it gives them the opportunity to make saying “no thank you” less personal as well. But I struggle to separate the personal from the business or the creation from the creative. Perhaps that is why I so passionately urge actors to work on an understanding of self and consequently showing a grounded presentation of that difficult work in an audition. We are fools if we think that all of us in an audition room do not have a profoundly personal relationship with our individual crafts.
So, I urge us all to come into the room with a different attitude about the table. Perhaps, we all walk into the audition room and join each other with the knowledge that the business of creation is a communal process --- and we are all at the table together.
Photo via Apartment 34