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      All the Pieces of the Puzzle by Thomas Putnam

      puzzI've been known to take a long time in casting a show. I know it's unfair to those who have auditioned but it's the only way I know how to do it and live with the decision for the following two or three months. I've written about the process that I often go through to figure out a cast. We try very hard to cast every show from the people who audition.

      On the audition form are the dates of the production. There is also a statement that indicates that the auditionee will accept any role assigned unless stated otherwise. The auditionee signs the form indicating understanding of all of this.

      I agonize over casting a show. It's the most difficult stressful part of the whole process for me. I don't take it lightly and I second guess myself mercilessly. I sometimes create little figure dolls to represent each auditionee and character in the play so I have some sort of visual help in imagining the vast array of possibilities. Sometimes I take photos of the auditionees (particularly with a group of people with whom I am not familiar.) I make charts of the characters and write the names of all the auditionees who might even remotely be able to play the role. I come up with a cast and then sleep on it a few days. I might run it by a director who has worked with some of the auditionees before and get their input. It's always an unknown as to how the cast may work together or how an individual might inhabit the character.

      Then I decide and publish the cast. Once that happens, it's done. I know I must live with the choice for the next few months; and the cast must live with it; and the audiencees must live with it; and those who were not cast must live with it. In many ways it's a freeing feeling—partly I suppose because the decision/indecision is finally over and partly because I love the rush of starting new with a script and group of people who haven't been in this particular situation ever before—or ever again.

      It's always an unknown, too, dealing with people's lives. There have been a number of times when I have agonized over casting and then a few weeks in a person has to drop out due to health issues or family issues. The one situation that is incredibly difficult to forgive is for after the many days of agonizing over a cast and coming up with just the right configuration that right after I publish the cast someone decides they don't want to be in it. It's just not fair. I get over it, but it's not fair.

      The pieces of the puzzle of ALMOST, MAINE have been fit together. Whew...

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