My daughter has been getting more and more involved in performing lately and I can see she has caught the "bug" in such a way that I would not be surprised if she pursues theater her whole life like Roger and I have done. I was making a list of tips for her and thought they would make a great post so here we go:
Tamari's Theater Tips!
1) First and foremost, Know Who You Are. An actor must have an inner core of morals to stand for. This will be different for most everyone so respect yourself and others for what their core is. This is important because being in the arts is like riding a boat in stormy seas. If you do not live by a code of rules, boundaries and ethics, you will be tossed about, shaken up and have the potential to lose sight of what is most important to you. Stand firm in who you are and what you believe in. No one can take that from you unless you let them.
2) This business is about Who You Know. Connections are essential. When you are starting out in a new city it is like auditioning in an empty room. Until a director takes a chance and gives you your first break, you will be facing more rejection than inclusion. Do readings and workshops, attend plays, take classes, work behind the scenes, go to as many auditions as you are able and get to know the people around you. Everyone has their way of "networking" and it may seem superficial, but it is an important step in getting cast.
3) Once you are cast Keep An Impeccable Work Ethic. I believe that even before talent, a strong work ethic is critical. Show up on time, be prepared, be kind and respectful to everyone involved. Do what you are asked to do, unless it goes against your core values (#1) and then see if a compromise can be made...if not, you may have to leave a job or learn from the experience and never repeat it.
4) The key to any art is to know that it is a continuous journey with no final destination in sight. What I mean by that is, One Can Always Improve. Be open to different acting techniques. Commit to learning and applying as much as you can and keep that knowledge in your "actor's tool bag" to pull out when needed. Eventually we reach milestones where we have the skills to perform at a professional level, but we can always get better at what we do. If your ego takes over, and you feel you have "arrived", you need to take a step back and re-evaluate.
5) Confidence is different than Conceit. To believe in yourself and your abilities is a healthy, balanced view. All actors/artists have insecurities, and the path in finding a resting place where one is confident can be a bumpy ride. But, once one is able to find that balance in confidence do not let the scale tip to the dusty trails of conceit. Conceit shuts down your capacity to learn and shuts out those around you. Two things you never want to happen in the arts.
6) Support Your fellow Actors. Your career is yours and yours alone. It is easy to compare yourself to your peers, but try to limit the trap of doing so. If someone else gets the role you wanted learn how to let go of the disappointment you may feel about a job you never had in the first place, and cheer for the ones who did get that opportunity. Why focus on being jealous of someone who in reality did not *cast themselves in the role? They were cast by someone else who has a long list of reasons why they were cast over you. And most often it has nothing to do with your ability as an actor. Everyone needs their time to bask in the limelight. Your time will come and then someone else's time will come. It ebbs and flows.
7) Be Grateful. Be grateful for your health, your family, your talents...all the things that are your foundation. Those are the things that will be a constant in your life as your career in the arts oscillates. Be grateful for every audition. It is the chance to display your take on the material and what you would bring to the table. It is an opportunity to show how you have improved and allow the director to see a side of yourself that they may not have seen before. What an amazing opportunity auditions are. Be grateful when you get cast. Some people forget this and can complain while on the job. What a blessing to land the job, and even if it may not have been the part you wanted, SO WHAT! This your time to dig in, learn, grow and create something special, so don't waste that precious time in the dark mines of murmuring.
8) Back to auditions...this is a hard one...always be prepared and shine your brightest for the time allotted, but then you must Let It Go. Everything is out of your hands. The odds may be in your favor or not. Realize that once it is over that you need to forget about it and move forward and get ready for the next one. Do not put all of your hope into one audition. You will be sorely disappointed. This business is full of disappointment, so the faster you can get over it, the happier you will be. And if you end up getting a call back...GREAT! If you get cast...Icing on the cake!! (now refer to #3)
9) Trust Your Instincts. It is your job to create a character; to inhabit their skin. Trust yourself. Your imagination, your choices, the technique you are using to approach a particular role. All of these truths come from you and while working with a director is a collaboration, feel free to professionally voice how you feel when the chance arises. Sometimes you will be in opposition with the creative team, but at least say and try what you would like and then if it doesn't work within the director's framework you will feel it. Be okay with giving in to their ideas, but also standing up for yours. This can be done with mutual respect and very little (if any) confrontation.
10) Do Projects That You Are Passionate About. Being the "new guy" will sometimes mean you audition for things just to be seen and get directors familiar with who you are, knowing full well you probably won't be cast. But once those doors start to open, be more selective, do the material that excites you and inspires you. Hearkening back to your code of morals in #1 there may be some material you are not comfortable with. Gravitate to the material that you feel is most worthwhile. It will be more fulfilling and rewarding in the long run. Mistakes will be made, parts will be landed and secrets from certain friends and family will be kept as you figure all this out, but you will soon find what material speaks to you and what does not. Stand proud in that material and do not apologize. There is a place and an audience for all kinds of art forms so do not be ashamed to do what you are most passionate about. If you find it stimulating, then it is of value.
*on occasion you will have theater friends who do cast themselves because they run the company or have some clout within the company. I still believe the same attitude of support should apply. If you decide to run your own company some day with all those added responsibilities you will have to make the choice if this is something you will do. Understand that sometimes you have to create your own opportunities to open doors for yourself and the company. So don't judge too quickly and keep those pom poms raised high, remember what I said about connections? Friends who run theater companies aren't bad friends to have. ;-)