You probably remember the last time you went to a show. Whether it was a small show done by an elementary school, maybe a professional show, or maybe even as great as something on Broadway. The performers you see are all part of a niche art that takes love, persistence, passion, and appreciation.
Love? Yes. People do not do theater for the gratification. If people did theater for the applause at the end of the show, nobody would do theater. Endless hours of memorizing and perfecting. Understanding your character and becoming them. It takes months. And all that for a few weeks of applause? I think not. If we justified our work based on how we were appreciated in the end, we would be sorely let down. The sad truth of theater is that your whole vision that is developed over a long and tedious process is only a reality for an unimaginably short time. So when I say it takes love, I mean love of your art. Love of others. Love of work. Love of a craft.
Persistence is pushing through all the difficulties in your path. When creating a show, there are inevitably frustrations. Those may manifest themselves as other individuals, difficult scenes/songs, or the mounting stress of your life conflicting with your rehearsal schedule. So if you aren’t persistent. It’s game over. You will reach a point where you can’t stare at your script for one more second, can’t run a scene one more time, can’t do one more tech rehearsal and that is what makes or breaks an actor.
Passion is pouring your everything into a cause. This is similar to persistence in that if you do not have it, it will be increasingly difficult when things get rough. Passion is also your relationship to the show. It is putting on the guise of your character. Adopting their personality, their walk, their talk, their weaknesses, fears, sorrows, joys, quirks, loves, passions, and finding a way to combine every single one of those into every line you have. In the way you walk, talk, breathe, and sing. There is a difference between playing a part and being a part. If you can truly become your character, you have passion.
Appreciation is seeing the value in something. Art is fleeting. A song only lasts so long. Poems and books have endings. You can only look at a painting for so long. A dance cannot continue forever, in the same way, a show must end. If you cannot appreciate a show in the small window that you are part of it, theater will hurt you. For a brief amount of time you enter a love affair. You become deeply and intimately acquainted with the show. Your character becomes a part of your identity. Your fellow cast members become your family. Your tech crew becomes your lifeline. And the show becomes your life. Eventually you will reach the point where it has to go. And it hurts. This thing that you have poured your time, love, passion, and work into is over. You won’t see your cast with as much frequency. And this is where you will need appreciation. You must appreciate the art you made. Because for someone in that audience, your performance was needed. In a world with stress abounding and issues front and center, you removed them from that. Even if it was only for two hours, you provided that bubble, that escape, that momentary break, and for that, it is needed.