This question pops up in my coaching sessions time and again.
So here’s my take…
For those not familiar: an EPA [Equity Principal Audition] is an audition open to Actors Equity members, providing the opportunity for an Equity (union) actor to be seen by a regional theater, Off-Broadway or Broadway production. Equity Membership Candidates (EMC) may also participate if time permits. Non-union actors may or may not be seen depending on time or management.
I have had success in these auditions and I have heard crickets chirp.
In the past I too waited all day as an EMC member, and as a non-union actor was sometimes turned away after a four-hour bus trip. I have also found joy when receiving a callback for a national tour or booking a regional production via this route. My hope is that the following guidelines may help you in making the choice “to go” or “not to go”.
If you’re unrepresented…
This may be the only opportunity you have to audition for an Equity company or production. It is likely that agent appointments take precedence and may have more decision makers in the room (compared to some EPA rooms where one casting assistant is in the room fulfilling the requirement or sifting through headshots). However, if you are unrepresented, the EPA could be your only opportunity to be seen. So in this case, I say GO FOR IT—go to the EPA!
If you are PERFECT for the role/show…
Let me give you an example. I have performed in a couple regional productions of AVENUE Q and would LOVE to be seen for the ongoing production at New World Stages. If I am unable to schedule an audition appointment through an agent, I will hit the EPA. What have I got to lose?
If there is a dream role or show for which your skills are a perfect match, you owe it to that production team to go in there and show your your best work. I say GO FOR IT!
If you are nurturing a specific relationship with someone in the room (casting director, producer, composer, etc)…
Do you know one of the decision makers in the room? The EPA would be a great way to say “hi” and give them an update of what you are up. GO FOR IT!
If the audition is outside of NYC or LA…
If you live or work in a market outside of NYC or LA, the EPA may be worth your time. Some regional theaters do not even hold auditions in NY or LA so their local EPA is the only audition available—chances will likely be in your favor. On the other hand, a company may only be holding local EPAs as a contract requirement, and may be fully cast, have a resident company or hire exclusively from NY & LA.
Do your research. Ask around. Check the breakdown for specific roles available. It may not be worth your time to drive from DC to VT for a local EPA, if they are only seeking understudies—or it might… For me, it would have to be a dream role and/or a director, producer, etc. who I am in relationship with in in order for my travel (time & money) to be worth it.
As with all auditions, the audition is only a piece in the puzzle. It is up to you to be prepared, follow-up and nurture relationships with the decision-makers in the room, and at the end of the day LET IT GO.
For more on nurturing relationships, check out this previous post.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your experience with EPAs below.
the global actor