It's a heartbreak that's unique to actors. After pounding the pavement all season, hitting audition after audition, tallying up callback after callback, you are are offered... zilch. No one cares if you've grown or learned a ton of new material or did 32 fouettes into a jump-split, you are unemployed. The long months of June, July and August loom before you, and you feel like a loser.
I've been there. Last summer, the only job I booked came from a single EPA I happened to squeeze in between a voiceover gig and an agent appointment (which I blew). The summer before I got called back for literally everything. I was on fire, but it resulted in zero actual jobs. I was crushed.
Sometimes that's the way it goes.
You can tell yourself it's not meant to be, you can cry quietly every night into your cocktail, or you can adjust your outlook. You can even do all three.
1. Grow up.
If you're a recent college grad, you may be used to working during the summer because that was the only time you could work. But you've graduated now. You're full out, no marking. And guess what? Real actors work year round. You probably don't need another summer stock credit on your resume anyway. Take this time to tighten your focus, figure out what direction you want your career to go, and set some goals for the rest of the year.
2. Hit it harder.
Don't believe people who tell you it's dead in the City in the summer. It's not. (It's only dead in August.) Meanwhile, there are NYMF shows. There are Broadway replacement calls. Many, many Broadway contracts come up in the summer, and there are fewer people in town to audition. In fact, open calls seem downright luxurious due to the scarcity of competition. If you're not seeing stuff to audition for that's right for you, network in a different way. Go see shows and send a note to casting. Tell them how much you enjoyed the production, and how you might be right for X's track, and why. Go see NYMF shows and mingle afterwards. Go to cabarets and open mic nights.
3. Work your contacts. .
If you have a great relationship with a summer theatre, or with a certain director or choreographer, shoot them an email and let them know you're free for the summer. Make yourself available to them at a moment's notice. The key here is reaching out in a way that doesn't make you sound like a sad sack (pictured). Find a way to make it sound like you're solving a casting problem for them. If you've worked professionally at all, you probably know that theatres need last minute replacements All. The. Time. People frequently get injured or get better gigs. The theatre doesn't always have the time or the resources to hold new auditions. If you were the runner-up, this is when you might get a call. But more often, the theatre or creative team will simply plug in somebody they know. I cannot stress enough how often this happens! If you've just sent a friendly note, that someone could be you. So look at the shows they're doing, find out what you could be right for, and make it sound like you have a gap in your schedule that coincides. "Hi, it's me, and I enjoyed working with you so much last summer. I wanted you to know I'm free through all of July and most of August. Please keep me in mind if you happen to need any last-minute replacements. I'd love to spend the summer with you again." Done. This is called being proactive. You think people make careers from just going to auditions and booking things? No, they don't. You gotta hustle.
4. Take a break.
Conversely, you can do the total opposite of everything I've advised here, and just live your life. Maybe you need a vacation from auditioning. Get a job at the Frying Pan or the Boat Basin or someplace that's guaranteed to be profitable in the summer, and book that trip to Ireland at the end of August. Work hard, play hard, make some money, and unwind a little. It's okay. The industry isn't going anywhere. You can hit it hard again in the fall.
Or you can give back. A ton of summer theatre programs need counselors and instructors. Peruse craigslist ads, cold-call camps near the City or your hometown, call your friends and ask for referrals. At this point most of the hiring is probably done, but guess what-- their people bail all the time, too. You never know. You might discover that teaching others to do what you love so much provides a much-needed sense of fulfillment at the end of a long and grueling audition season.