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  • Writer's pictureNicole Renna

Return to EPA Land

Recently, I attended my first in-person EPA in Philadelphia since the COVID-19 shutdown. (What is an EPA? It stands for Equity Principal Audition. This is a great blog post that explains theater auditions in depth.)

Truth be told, I have been avoiding them since they became mandatory on January 1 of this year. Prior to the pandemic, I would regularly travel up to New York from Philadelphia, only to wait outside of Pearl Studios in the cold to put my name on the EMC (Equity Membership Candidate) list and hope that casting would be seeing EMC and non-union actors that day. And just as regularly, I would hear the audition monitor utter the words “EMC and non-eq are released.” No audition for me and so many others. I counted myself lucky if we received this news before the lunch break. Back to Philly. It is oddly exhausting to sit around, doing nothing but waiting.

So when I decided to attend said first-EPA-in-the-after-times, I felt A LOT of resistance. Was I really going to waste a day begging for a chance to audition? Did I even remember how to wait around all day? Did I remember how to make small talk? What’s the point of this outdated practice?

In the end, I’m so glad I went. I know I sang well, but that’s not what ended up mattering. It felt so good to be in community with fellow Philadelphia actors. I spent the day reconnecting with people I love and have worked with and have admired and haven’t seen in nearly three years. It felt like a day of healing and rebuilding. I got to sing a song I have loved since I was 16 years old for a wonderful creative team who took the time to say “it’s good to see you again.” I had nothing to prove, only everything to share.

I still feel that EPAs are outdated. They are neither equitable nor accessible. I can only clear a day’s schedule so often to attend something like this, and I know that going forward I will be very picky about which ones I choose to attend. But when I do make that choice, I intend to hold onto how this first one back felt. Feeling community with kindred spirits. Nothing to prove, everything to share.


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