If you’ve ever seen or been in a theatrical production before, I’d bet money that you probably have a role or two which you’d give anything to play on stage.
Dream roles: we all have them. So why don’t we ever recognize how valuable they can be?
Maybe because of their prevalence, we simply overlook their benefits. Did you know the common dandelion is a useful edible and medicinal plant? Everyone has a few hundred of them in their backyard, and yet we overlook them everyday. I’d argue a performer’s dream roles are much the same.
Dream roles give us something to aspire to. They are to performers as life goals are to the average person– fun to fantasize about, and probably easy to list a hundred off the top of your head. They’re also useful in the sense that they help you shape your vision of your future.
Think for a moment about some of the roles you always wanted to play. Let your imagination run wild. No matter how far-off and impossible the part seems, roll with it. If you want to play Elphaba, embrace it! If you’re a tenor and want to play Christina Daae, embrace it! In fact, write a few of your dream roles down. Make a list. Brainstorm!
Once you’ve gathered a decent number of ideas, start considering them. Are they really as far-off as you think? What kind of skills do they require? How do you currently measure up? If you had the chance to audition for one of these roles today, would you? Would you feel prepared? If you had a month to prepare, what kind of steps would you take? What if you had six months? A year?
Start treating your dream roles as attainable life goals, and make a plan to get there! The great thing about having dreams– especially the most sky-high, seemingly impossible ones– is that they keep you aiming to achieve more. You can’t achieve your goals without working to improve and educate yourself. Treat your dream roles the same way and see how your theatrical horizons expand!
No matter how far-off they may seem, don’t dismiss your dreams. Follow them, and see where they may lead you! Don’t dismiss the dream roles that come out of nowhere, either. If an audition notice pops up and you suddenly realize you desperately want to play a certain character in this show, make it your goal! Have the nerve to want it!
Better yet, find a dream role in every show you audition for. You’ll find yourself focussed and driven to prepare with more skin in the game.
Remember, it doesn’t matter if you’ve never played big role before. It doesn’t even matter if the role is in your comfort zone. As long as you can use that role as a guiding star to help you hone your talents and work on your craft, embrace it!
I would be remiss, however, to pretend that all dream always come to fruition. Alas, dream roles are also similar to life goals in the sense that you probably won’t achieve all of them.
This isn’t necessarily a nihilistic thought! It’s only natural for goals to change. Goals I aspired to as a child are different from the goals I have today. It’s not that I failed to reach those goals, I simply realized they were not a priority.
Yet, of course, sometimes we will fail to reach our goals.
Therein lies the obvious drawback of this approach to theatrical life: Always shooting for the stars quickly becomes exhausting. After all, auditions often prove vicious battlefields, and typical performers find themselves losing out on their dream roles more often than not– that’s certainly no happy fact. Many performers find themselves so often beaten down and disappointed that they stop aspiring for any particular role because they don’t believe they can achieve it.
It’s never easy to fail, let alone to fail at something at which you really wanted to succeed.
Much like in life, the dream roles that we achieve are not always the ones that shape us. If you try and fail to achieve a goal, but manage to learn in the process and are able to take something away from that failure, you have still succeeded.
Try to take it in stride. This is why it’s important to have many dream roles. Even if you don’t achieve one this time around, keep it on the backburner, and see if you can try again later. While you wait, look around and see what else you can achieve! You may find yourself succeeding at other goals such that when you look back, that one you failed at in the past doesn’t seem so important anymore.
Keep aiming, and don’t be afraid to aim high. You might just find your wildest dreams more attainable than you know!