If you’re reading this, you’ve been moved by a piece of theatre. Maybe it was a Broadway show, or a community theatre production, or a clip of Wicked on Youtube, or maybe it was your third-grade presentation of Goldilocks and the Three Bears - but whatever it was, it impacted you in such a way that you have never forgotten it.
I’ve been participating in theatre for more than half of my life. Those years have brought me resistance and discouragement, but they’ve also brought me a lot of lessons.
This is for the thespians, young and old, experienced and green, professional and community.
This is for the theatre kids.
YOU CAN’T TREAT IT LIKE A COMPETITION
Theatre is not a sport. It shares some qualities with athletics (teamwork, intense practice, physical activity), but good theatre is not a competition. You aren’t trying to beat anyone out for a role. You aren’t trying to be the best. You should be trying to do your best and help the others around you do the same. To create good theatre, you have to trust your castmates and creative team. But trust is not cultivated in an environment where everyone is trying to be the most impressive performer. Be the best you that you can be, nothing more, nothing less.
IF YOU WANT TO DO THIS, YOU HAVE TO LOVE IT
Performing is a career that is incredibly draining. It forces you to face rejection again and again. It pays...well...not much. In the professional theatre world, nothing is ever stable for very long. If you want this, you have to love it. And you have to want it enough to be willing to fight for it, and stand back up over and over. If you don’t love what you’re doing, it’s not going to seem worth it.
YOU ARE ALLOWED TO SAY NO
If something makes you uncomfortable, you are allowed to say so. In rehearsal, in auditions, in lessons...you can say no. Being a good actor means pushing your comfort zone, not pushing your personal limitations. Recognize that.
YOU MUST BE WILLING TO ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF
No one is fighting for you as an artist. You have to create your own opportunities. You have to be willing to fight for yourself and demand respect.
YOU'RE ALWAYS AUDITIONING
Not just in auditions. You are always building your reputation. Every place you go and person you meet is a chance to show that you are easy to work with and willing to learn.
LEARN IT ALL
Even the things you aren't interested. Take the general education classes...you never know what is going to be applicable in understanding a play or a role. Learn all parts of the theatre. Directing, writing, performing, tech...do it. Your appreciation for your craft will grow and your knowledge will help you be a better performer.
YOUR WORTH AS A PERSON IS NOT DETERMINED BY YOUR CASTING
Plain and simple, you are worth much more than your performance. You have to know that. You have to know that if you get rejected in a casting call, you are still worthy of success and love.
AUDITIONS ARE AN OPPORTUNITY
An audition is 30 seconds of fame. For the time you are in that room, the role is yours. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to be the part of your dreams. Don't waste it. Use it.
YOU ARE STILL AN ARTIST, EVEN WHEN YOU AREN'T WORKING
Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Keep creating, no matter what happens or where you end up.