Actor Life, Theatre

Rest, Reset, Grow

I write this a week after the Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Wolf, declared schools would be closed for two weeks to combat the spread of COVID-19, and days after he’s ordered a shutdown of all events with more than 50 people in attendance. Thus, he wiped out thousands of school, community, and professional theatre productions in the state. All around the U.S. and the world, the decree is the same. As of now, Broadway is not even a week into a month-long blackout.

These preventative measures are necessary, but they exact a price.

A lot of my friends are hurting. As deep into various theatre circles as I am, I’ve been hearing lamentations of cancelled and postponed shows for weeks.

Some amateur department directors fear their programs will never be able to recover financially. Actors mourn roles they’ll never get to play for an audience. Professionals are without pay for who knows how long.

Despite everything, the theatre community keeps art and hope alive. Young actors share videos of their would-be performances, clips of themselves singing and reading monologues. Professional theatre and dance companies like BalletNova Center for Dance post Facebook Live ballet classes for anyone to enjoy.

But we are hurting. Many actors have had something taken from them they will never really be able to recover.

Actors, singers, dancers, professionals and amateurs alike; Performers of every sort who have been effected by the spread of this disease:

Take this time to rest, whether you want to or not.

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Actor Life, Theatre

“Where am I Going, and Where Have I Been?”: What I Learned From Reviewing Six Years of Past Performances

I have compulsively taken audio recordings of every voice lesson I’ve had over the last four years, as well as recordings of most auditions and a handful of rehearsals. I’ve made it a habit and feel the strong need to be recording whenever I’m doing anything with my voice. Funny enough, I rarely end up listening back to these recordings– I’ve probably listened to less than a third of the entire library of recordings I’ve made with the app Voice Record Pro.

For fun I recently listened to some of the first recordings. These were from my freshman year of college, a time in which I was very insecure in my voice, and still very green in my vocal training overall. I was struck by the difference in those audios from the most recent ones! I was excited about the prospect of growth, and ended up mentioning the fact to my therapist. She was very excited with my discovery, and asked that I take it a step further.

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Actor Life, Theatre

“Don’t Take This the Wrong way, but You’ve Really Improved”

These words were spoken to me upon the completion of the singing portion of a recent audition.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but you’ve really improved a lot since last year.”

The director said this and caught me completely off guard. A few hours later, he apologized, and caught me even more off guard. He explained that he’d meant what he said as a compliment, and hoped it hadn’t sounded rude.

My response was basically, “yeah, of course it’s a compliment, duh.”

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Actor Life

“There are no Small Parts, Only Small Actors”

If you’re involved in theatre in any way, then you’ve definitely heard the phrase “there’s no small parts, only small actors” at least once– and probably far more than that. When I was younger, I figured this was just untrue. There are small parts, I thought, that’s just a fact. Some parts are on stage less, or have less lines. They’re small, but that’s not the actor’s fault.

Clearly I wasn’t alone in this sentiment and clearly I’m still not, because I constantly hear stories about actors quitting shows because they didn’t get a “good” part.

This idea among young theatre students– that there is indeed a “small part”— feeds into multiple bad behaviors that not only makes their acting worse but can make entire shows worse. In fact, I’d say that dispelling this myth is one of the most important things a director can do right off the bat to make sure their show has all the power it can have.

So let’s establish something right now– there is no such thing as a small part.

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