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Friday, 14 April 2006



That's just beyond wrong. Let's, for the sake of argument, leave out this actor's history with the show since recasting new productions happens all the time. But in this case, the role having been offered, how could anyone bring themself to make that phone call?

"You know that job I offered you and confirmed I was offering you and you quit another job for? Yeah, changed my mind. But you totally my Boo! Peace out!"


Actually, let's not forget the actor's history with this production. Do most realize that Karl was a contributing writer on this project, or that he walked the halls of Columbine High with PJ and talked with those whose lives were most affected by the tragedy to create the verisimilitude for both his character and the story, or that anyone who knows the depth of Karl's work realizes how much of his heart and soul was invested in this project? For one artist to suck dry the creativity of another artist to create his "own art," and then deny that artist the chance for closure that bringing the Columbinus tragedy and it's lessons to an even larger audience...well, that is the ultimate Judas kiss...happy Easter PJ.


Read "anonymous" comment Over There... YES! Silence as a response would be apt. And I know KM will do us proud with dignity and class.


sadly, this stuff happens more than we'd like to admit. actorines have always been at the bottom of the food chain. they go without steady work, health insurance, the trappings of a "regular" life, all for the opportunity to create art. and even with those happy sacrifices, someone can still come along and squeeze an actor out of a part they rightly own for any number of cockamamie reasons.

i think you'd be hard-pressed to find any actor in this town who hasn't had something crappy like this (though not on so large and public a scale) happen to them. parts are promised all the time, only to have "things change" or "artistic differences" arise. those of us who are zen about such things console ourselves with the knowledge that it just wasn't meant to be, that this just means a better gig is waiting for us down the road, and that evil acts will not go unpunished. but we only get to such a zen place after crying and ranting for a bit.

about seven years ago i was fired from playing juliet two weeks before opening at this bumf*ck company in the middle of nowhere officially because i'd requested an alternative to actually being hit in the face and thrown offstage into collapsible chairs. yeah. you heard me. i was told my being hit in the face for real was critical to the artistic integrity of the play, even though it was a proscenium stage and many other actors were on stage at that time so options for fake hits were aplenty. so of course i said i'd take the hit and sign any waiver they'd like--believe me, i wasn't going to lose this part. they fired me anyway. of course, i'd also rejected the director's explicit sexual advances (he made me audition in his bedroom) and called him out on his behavior, soo.... i learned quickly that standing up for yourself in this business gets you nowhere.

anyway, my point is, being let go two weeks before opening meant i had all this anger and pent-up creative energy needing release.
and that's when i wrote my first play. i decided right then and there that i'd rather have control over creating my own artistic worlds than be at the mercy of anyone that unethical, that unfeeling.

but seven years later, it still stings. though less.

i'm really sorry, karl. you were f*cking great in that role. but you must know this. anyone who follows in your footsteps is only a pretender, a Platonic shadow. you were the ideal.


"i think you'd be hard-pressed to find any actor in this town who hasn't had something crappy like this (though not on so large and public a scale) happen to them."

Full agreement.

"those of us who are zen about such things console ourselves with the knowledge that it just wasn't meant to be, that this just means a better gig is waiting for us down the road, and that evil acts will not go unpunished."

Full desire to "be there now," but here's the thing. We sit around online and in greenrooms and tell horror stories, but because we are the bottom of the food chain, we show up when the people who pull this stuff hold auditions. We know who they are, we need the work, we suck it up and hope to get cast and have an uneventful experience. And I don't blame us, really, because staying employed is a whole 'nother job in addition to the of the job of acting in a show.

Big fat disclaimer: There are a lot of good folks out there who understand that integrity as a person/company actually goes hand in hand with getting the best out of the people you hire, be they actors or any other part of the production team. It isn't about warm fuzzies, it's what KM said: "Trust." The list of people I am happy to work for is far longer than the list of people I won't even audition for - that's a short, short list. But yesterday, it got longer by one.


Not that I am deluded enough to think those involved know or care that they are on my private shit list, but it feels good to put them there.

Because you read the story and you feel bad for the actor and also pretty bloody frustrated that this can and does happen.


it's probably well to remember that "civilians" have to deal with crap like this all the time--incompetent bosses, soul-sucking power games, unfair disappointments. AND they have crushing mortgages.

hey, at least we get to be artists, right? i mean, it's not like we're bitching about getting passed over for second assistant VP of widget-tweaking. what karl built really stands for something and actually moved people. not many regular folx have jobs as rewarding as we do. if it weren't so rewarding, we certainly wouldn't struggle with all this nonsense.

i'm sure karl won't sit idle for long.


Let me add another dimension: this kind of thing happens to companies too; ie actors pulling out of productions after having accepted roles. Sometimes the actor gets another offer that has either a higher profile or a bigger paycheck, so they feel justified in spite of leaving the company in a temporary pickle. Though I guess I believe in going home with the one who took you to the dance, who says life is fair?


Life isn't fair and actors do it too may be true but individual people have a choice to be fair (and more important, in this case, honest) so the fact that it doesn't always happen that way is not justification.

If an actor pulled a stunt like this (in the absence of one of those higher remuneration clauses, which a theatre knows about when it offers such a contract) that actor's reputation would suffer.

Directors and theatres aren't held to the same standard and they know it. Even if some people stay away, they are going to be able to cast their shows. That's life, I get it. It doesn't make me feel less disturbed about the story that started this discussion.

Karl Miller

Thank you, Jennifer, for pointing out the two-way street -- I've thought a lot about this lately, too. Actors aren't powerless, bottom-feeders in the business. I've pulled out of a handful of shows in the past few years. Once out of anticipated fatigue, once to tend to a personal emergency, once because I got a better offer for a more compelling project, and then last fall with "The Violet Hour" -- which sent Kasi into a mad dash for a new lead. I can't tell if DC's casting process (70-80% of the season cast by the preceding summer) insulates us from these hard choices or not. But even when I have an objectively good reason for leaving a show (and even when it's easy to replace the part-in-question), I still feel like a schmo for not holding to my original choice.

So, if nothing else, this whole episode has given me a chance to reflect on times when I've done something similar. Jennifer's right: actors need to be trustworthy, too.


Well said Karl. And I think, for the most part, directors completely understand when actors make a decision to pull out of a show for any of the reasons you listed - obvious career advancement, health, family, and yes indeed, money. It stings for a moment, but everyone moves on, especially when you care about the actor in question, and about the future of their career.

But the columbinus situation sounds so complex, like all sorts of stuff was happening without everyone being kept on par. Sure, moves to NY can be frustrating - it still irks me when I think of Recent Tragic Events moving to Playwright's where that beautiful show was subjected to the stunning talents of Roller Girl. Please.

But what I don't understand about this is that you guys have some shared writing credits on the show, don't you? That seems like it would shift the balance of power a bit. And I do like the people involved in this whole thing - I'm simply baffled by how it all came to be (or flabbergasted, as Tboy would say).

Theata Widowa

James Flanagan is also going to New York with the production. He's the actor who plays the nerdy student who can't play basketball. So, it's not just Will... Both Will and James are fantastic and deserve the break too, but Karl is exceptional in everything he does. It makes no sense to leave him out.


Karl's comment on DC casting ("70-80% of the season cast by the preceding summer") intrigues me. It seems that auditions are getting earlier and earlier each year. Round House and Theatre Alliance recently held auditions for shows that are about a year away from starting rehearsals. Is this a new trend everywhere? Is it specifically a DC thing? Has this led to a lot of re-casting and re-shuffling of shows? Thoughts?


He's going to NYC even as I write this. Yup, he's doing it!

second choice?

Did the guy from NY that they hired drop out? Or did PJ actually develop a conscience and give the role back to the man who was key to making the play a huge hit here? Much as I'd like to hope it was the later, I'm betting on the former.

Theata Widowa

Glad to hear Karl is back in. I'm sure it was when they saw the other actor, there was no comparison. Karl = scary in that role.


I think there was a realization that there *might* have been a misatke.

near-sighted tipster

the tipster needs to proOf read betTer...that should be. umm... "mistake.."


So? What's the deal? It's not very nice to keep us all hangin'

what's to tell?

He's in NY, doing the show. What are you hanging on?

ye olde tipster

Yeah hangin', what do you require? He's doing it, it will be seen, he will return....

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