My Favorite Strategy for Learning a Role: Engage Your Senses

 

About a year ago I listened to to an episode of the Kwik Brain podcast all about hacking your brain in order to learn lines more efficiently. I’d recommend anyone looking for some new strategies check out the episode and the second part, too. However, of all of the concepts presented in the two episodes, only one strategy has really stuck with me and become a crucial part of my preparation for a show. I’ve now used this strategy to learn several roles, and am always eager to share with others, because it has been a game changer.

This strategy is to engage all of your senses.

Learning lines is often a very cerebral, inactive process– sitting down with a script and working at scenes over and over until you have them down. In theory, there’s nothing wrong with this approach. If you find this just isn’t cutting it for you, though, here’s another idea.

Human memory is associated very strongly with certain senses. For example, catching a whiff of a familiar perfume or tasting a familiar brand of candy can vividly remind us of certain people or times. When I eat cherry Twizzler nibs, I am effectively transported back in time to weekends at my dad’s house, when I’d buy these and eat them while I played my favorite video games. Perhaps feeling cold air or smelling dry leaves in the fall reminds you of going back to school and makes you feel nostalgic. Certain memories are so closely associated with certain sensations that seeing, smelling, feeling, hearing, or tasting something from a very bad or good time can make you feel bad or good immediately upon contact.

Memory is connected to your physical senses. So how can you harness this in learning your lines?

The first thing you should try is to rehearse exactly as you will perform as much as possible. For example, if you know your blocking yet and have access to the space in which you will be performing, try memorizing your lines with the movements in the space. This way, the process is made physical– also a huge boon for memorization. Arriving early to rehearsal or staying late where possible to run choreography or blocking on the stage can therefore be even more helpful than rehearsing at home. The sights, smells, and sensations of the performance space can all serve as cues to aid in memorization. This is called context dependent memory and is an actual, scientific phenomenon!

Therefore, always opt for extra rehearsal time in the performance venue where possible. Instead of leaving early and practicing at home, capitalize on your time in the venue as much as you can!

But let’s say you don’t have access to the space– this is probably more likely for most performers, anyway.

The performance space will be unique in many sensory ways. For instance, the building might be air conditioned and frequently be cold, or might have a distinct smell. You may be able to recreate some of these experiences on your own. It would be easy to turn on the AC in your home or otherwise rehearse in cold spaces. However, it may not be possible to recreate some facets of the experience of the performance space. If this is the case, you can create your own constants across the varied spaces you will rehearse.

For example, let’s say the theater has a very particular smell. You cannot recreate this scent at home. Instead, you could wear a certain lotion or perfume each time you study your lines. This will become the new sensory context the memory of the lines is associated with. A bit Pavlovian, smelling the lotion or perfume will now remind you of the times you’ve previously rehearsed. You can wear this scent when you go to the theater for rehearsals and wear it during the performance– you’ll find it helps anchor yourself into the character and scenes because you have so associated it with the character and scenes.

You can also pair this with other senses. Taste and touch are likely the easiest. Chewing a specific flavor of gum is good example. Chew a unique flavor while you go over your lines at home. Though you probably shouldn’t chew gum in rehearsal, simply chewing a stick on the way to rehearsal and spitting it out before anything begins can be enough to get the taste in your mouth and associated with the rehearsal. You can also wear certain types of clothing or fabrics that will match those of your costumes. For example, the sensation of wearing a corset could be mimicked by wearing a (safely) tight bra or undershirt. Once you begin rehearsing in costume, the feeling of wearing the tight clothing might put yourself back into the context you felt rehearsing in tight clothing.

Even though you perhaps can’t rehearse in the exact conditions of the show, you can create your own conditions and fit them to the show yourself.

When I played Claire in an illegal stage production of The Breakfast Club I wore the same scent of perfume and lotion to every rehearsal. I also sprayed my script with the scent, so that every time I reviewed my lines, the scent was prominent. Coupled with this, I also chewed a specific unique flavor of gum on the way to rehearsals. I would always be sure to wipe off the lotion or scent as much as possible once I was done working, and kept other flavors of gum to change gears later. A year after this performance, when I smell the perfume, my brain instantly goes back to that show, and I still salivate for that flavor of gum!

This is a great way not just to memorize your lines, but also to get into character. Thinking about character motivations and interpretations while surrounding yourself with these sensory cues can turn these sensations into “triggers” for the character. This can also be the basis for some sense memory work– for example, if you apply a certain perfume you associate with sad memories just before going on stage for a sad scene, it might help put you in the proper mindset for the performance.

It is important to note that your sensory context choices must be unique. If you use a taste or scent you are already very familiar with for a character, you’ll probably already have a memory associated with that sense, and it will be less effective. For best results, use a perfume or gum flavor you have never experienced before. This provides you a completely “empty” template upon which to build your sensory context.

I have used this strategy for every big character I’ve played in recent years! I am slowly collecting a wealth of lotions and perfumes that make me instantly nostalgic for specific productions when opened.

To summarize, rehearse in the context in which you will perform, in order to trigger your context dependent memory. This means rehearsing with your physical movements, in similar dress, with similar people, in the rehearsal space under similar conditions to performance as much as possible. However, if this isn’t possible, you can create your own context by introducing certain sensory products like flavors of gum or specific, unique perfume scents, and utilize them every time you practice your lines at home, have a rehearsal, or perform the show. These will help you remember lines and blocking and can also serve as triggers to get you into character.

Try these out for your next show! It works best if you start as early as possible– create context triggers for the role even while preparing for auditions. Then, by the time the show arrives, you’ll completely associate the trigger with the show, character, and process. Hopefully this helps you as much as it has helped me!

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A Director’s Guide to Making Your School Theatre Casting Process a Learning Opportunity for Everyone

If you’ve ever performed in school theatre, you know what a horrible, exciting event the posting of the cast list can be. When the roles are assigned for the annual fall play or musical, tensions tend to run high, and students sometimes turn their backs on teachers. Feelings can be hurt, and the casting process can often seem like a personal rejection. Finding ways to keep this process productive and educational for everybody can make your program stronger and help increase retainment between shows!

Truly, every student can learn from every experience they have in the theater. This can be a hard lesson for young people to grasp. Directors can help by making small adjustments to their auditions and communication with students.

The following is a list of suggestions for directors following a rough chronological order. The list is divided into four sections: Before Auditions, Auditions, Casting Considerations, and Posting the List.

A side note: Many teachers are of the mindset that casting drama is below their circle of influence and not of any priority. They will also argue that the casting process is not about making anyone feel good about themselves, but setting yourself up for the best show possible and preparing students for real-world auditions and experiences. This is true. However, I urge all educators to remember that experiences in school theatre can make or break a student on performing for the rest of their lives. While I don’t advise pandering to students with bad attitudes, I strongly believe it’s necessary for educators to enforce fair, understandable casting policies, and treat all students with empathy and respect.


Before Auditions

  • Establish a good relationship with your students. Before auditions even begin, do your best to open lanes of communication between your students and yourself. Make clear that you are a trustworthy figure that harbors no ill will toward any student. This will also help keep nerves low.
  • Be clear about your program’s values and realities. Make it clear that the program will be enjoyable no matter what, and that while not everyone can be a lead, your program will celebrate every member of the cast. Set a clear example of what it means to respect ensemble members.
  • Make your expectations for auditions clear. Explain what the audition will look like, how to prepare for it, and what you want to see. The clearer you are about your expectations, the easier you can justify your casting decisions. This way you can also make sure every student has a fair chance to prepare, and that your auditions will be relatively smooth and stress-free.
    • Host an audition workshop. An audition workshop is a great way to do this! If many of your students are first-time performers, they may have never auditioned before. Going over the process of preparation, choosing a song, and performing in front of the production team can be very helpful for veterans and first-timers alike. Check my article about audition preparation if you need some ideas for preparing your students!
  • Explain the casting process. Explain that casting is never personal, and that many diverse factors impact your decisions. The more students understand the process, the less likely they are to argue with it.
    • Be clear about casting realities. Make sure students know that ensemble is a fact of life, and never something to be ashamed of. Share your own stories of being in the ensemble, or about getting cast in parts you didn’t feel right in, or about getting cut altogether– the more you can show you understand and have been through the same situation, the more likely your students will be to work with you.
    • Find ways for students to try out the process themselves. If your students can get hands-on experience with casting others, they’ll understand how complicated the job actually is. If you can set up classroom projects, workshops, or student-run productions where young performers can experience this, you may find the drama and intrigue around the process minimized.

In general, seek to humanize yourself and the process as much as possible. Keep discussion about what to expect frank and simple, and try your hardest to make sure students never think of auditions as any sort of personal judgement.

Auditions

  • Make sure everyone gets a fair shake. It is disheartening to feel like the director is done with you while everyone else reads multiple times. Don’t be disingenuous in your process, but give everyone an equal chance– don’t let one student read four times while another reads one, for instance. You can also lessen post-list hard feelings if everyone is given completely equal opportunity.
  • Consider creating an audition rubric. Even though you don’t necessarily have to follow this rubric by the word, having one makes defending your casting choices easy and makes your expectations very clear to students. It can also make giving feedback post-auditions easily demonstrable.
  • Be supportive and lessen students’ anxieties. As famed director William Ball states in his book A Sense of Direction, actors are vulnerable when they audition– part of the director’s job is too make the process easy for their auditors. In school theatre, I believe this goes double. Being a young adult is already hard. Don’t make it harder with unnecessary panic.

Casting Considerations

  • Cast according to best fit. Remember that your first and foremost consideration is casting the best show possible.
    • Stay strong! Even if you feel bad about a decision, never apologize to another student or tell them they deserved a role over another. Always stay strong in your decisions. Do not risk jeopardizing your students’ trust in the process by wavering.
  • Consider spreading the wealth. Look for ways to cast people who don’t normally get roles. Don’t be disingenuous, and always favor best fit over personal relationships. An opportunity to rise to a higher standard is always beneficial for every student nonetheless, so definitely seek ways to provide them as much as possible.
  • Keep an eye out for new talent, and don’t be afraid to take a risk. Don’t shy away from casting new faces. New students can really be hidden gems! Use your best judgement– a new, very talented student who is unreliable is likely never a better choice over a reliable but perhaps less gifted veteran.
  • Consider using students as crew leaders. If you have a particularly reliable student with useful skillsets that aren’t necessarily in the realm of performance, consider using them to create student-centered technical theatre programs. Student stage managers, technical directors, and sound or light ops (to name a few) can lighten your workload and really shine with an opportunity to do so. However, these students must be responsible and you must really commit to giving them real responsibilities. Never relegate students to technical roles as punishment or because they didn’t make the cut to be in the cast!
  • Ensemble is never to be used as punishment. Enough said. This totally undermines your message that the ensemble is important. If you need to make it clear that a student’s behavior or attitude isn’t acceptable, don’t cast them at all.
  • Consider establishing rules and regulations related to casting. For instance, if there are multiple performances a year in your department, consider establishing a rule that says no student may hold more than 2 leads roles a season, or set up cabaret performances exclusively open to students who weren’t cast in other shows. This will show your actors you are committed to providing opportunities to many students, and grant them chances to show their stuff.

Sharing the List

  • Consider sending personalized casting emails. Instead of posting the list with no context or fanfare, consider sending personalized emails to every student to offer roles. This can remove the feelings associated with finding out roles in a public space or from others. This is also a good way to make sure every student feels seen, rather than like a forgotten name at the bottom of the list. However, the emails must be truly personalized in order for this to be effective– sending one generic email to everyone is no better.
    • Offer constructive criticism. Open yourself up for questions related to auditions. Be sure to establish clear parameters for doing so. You could offer specific questions for your actors to ask: “Is there anything in particular that impacted my placement?” “Is there anything I can work on to improve for next time?” This way, the exchange remains entirely productive and avoids accusations or self-pity. Provide the actor with a few examples of things you liked and things you disliked. If you used an audition rubric, feel free to share it with them with some contextual notes and suggestions for the future. This promotes a growth mindset among students and creates dialogue rather than unspoken frustrations.
    • Only offer criticism in writing or in the company of others. That being said, sharing constructive criticism can open the door for further drama if you’re not careful. Give advice in ways your words cannot be twisted around.
  • Make it clear you will not tolerate drama related to the list. Be strong and unapologetic on this point. If students behave poorly in regards to casting, do not be afraid to remove them from the show where appropriate.
  • Celebrate the list. Celebrate every student on the list and make it clear everyone who auditioned has done something brave and commendable. Uplift every individual cast member and show you are proud and solid in your choices.

 

 

Get the Most out of Your Rehearsals by Journaling Them

About a year ago I was assigned a project for class that involved learning about anything and tracking your learning in a multimedia format. Since I was at the time involved in three different productions occurring simultaneously, I decided to make a blog about my efforts in learning to be a director. Though this project itself was very low-stress and even enjoyable, I got a perfect score and a glowing review from my professor, as well as a brilliant learning experience I didn’t expect.

Apparently required journaling of rehearsals is pretty common in school theatre programs nowadays– I never had to do this, and so I was able to approach the task with a fresh mind. Even if an assignment like this has previously tainted your experience with journaling rehearsals, consider revisiting it– it can be very beneficial for your learning, both in regard to that show and to your overall development as an actor and artist.

Note that I use “journaling” as a light suggestion rather than a commandment– you can record and track your rehearsals in any way that works best for you. A blog can work well, as I’ve already found. You could also keep voice recordings or record video or photo diaries– whatever works best for you is the route you should follow!

Once you’ve chosen your method of tracking rehearsals, it’s wise to establish some parameters to follow with every “entry”. On my blog project, I set a few basic rules for every post. I decided that in each post I would:

  • Briefly summarize the events of the rehearsal
  • Note how the director managed the rehearsal and whatever difficulties/successes occurred
  • Verbalize one main “take-away” lesson from the rehearsal
  • Note what I should do to prepare for the next rehearsal and when/how I would do so
  • Mention anything else worth note

These guidelines were broad enough to allow a lot of freedom, but also specific enough to keep me on task and keep me focussed on the goal of deriving directorial insight. Some other suggestions for things one might make a “rule” for their posts include:

  • Light analysis of rehearsal’s scenes/songs/blocking
  • Relate rehearsal events to readings/recent lessons in acting/voice/dance/etc
  • Describe personal character choices/revelations
  • Analyze the rehearsal practices of other actors/director/etc whom you look up to
  • List areas in which you did well and areas in which you need to improve
  • Record questions you may have for the director in the next rehearsal

Possibilities are really endless, but these are some general examples that may come in handy. Ideally, your “journal” should be uniquely fitting to your process, so feel free to add/drop guidelines as you go should you see fit. Find what works for you!

I recommend making a “journal entry” every time you have rehearsal, preferably as soon after the rehearsal concludes as possible. The closer you write to the rehearsal itself, the fresher your memory will be, and the more useful the writing will be to you. You may also want to make an entry when you do anything adjacent to theatre, your rehearsal process, or your learning. In my blog, I reflected upon chapters of books I was reading, discussed podcasts and YouTube videos I had consumed, wrote “reviews” of shows I saw, and wrote about any revelations in the “homework” done as I pored over the script outside of rehearsal. You can include passing thoughts about the show, ideas for character choices or blocking, or frustrated comments about whatever is bothering you– whatever. It’s your journal to use as you feel fit!

Recording all of this is beneficial for many reasons. For one, you’ll have an easy way to review your previous rehearsal efforts, and be clear on what you need to work on going forward. You can piece together the information you’ve acquired across all of your learning– for example, bits of knowledge gathered from rehearsals, auditions, book learning, classes, and random thoughts– and have an easy place to synthesize it all while reviewing prior thoughts. You have a constructive way to air frustrations, and a private place to reflect on insecurities or concerns. Reflection is an important step for growth and personal improvement, and contributes to a more mindful life. Plus, you’ll be easier able to set and keep track of goals you have in regards to your show or acting career. I really think the perks can’t be overstated.

Make your “journal” yours and make it as beneficial as possible to you! That might mean heeding none of my advice, or following almost the exact same parameters as I did on my project. Regardless, as long as it is what works for you, you can derive some meaning from it, and you are able to stick with it, recording your growth will be of your benefit.

6 Non-Theatre Subjects Every Theatre Person can Benefit From Learning More About

A single performance in theatre requires many diverse skillsets from many diverse people. There’s simply so much young actors and artists have to learn about the craft itself just to get through auditions that spending time on learning things that aren’t immediately connected to performing skills can seem like a waste. However, it’s precisely because shows require such diversity that learning everything you can about nearly every subject you can will always be of an actor’s benefit. If you’re ready to take your theatrical training beyond the basics, try moving away from acting, singing, and dancing for a bit and looking to these adjacent areas of knowledge instead!


1. Human Anatomy

I recommend every performer learn as much about anatomy as possible. As a performer, your entire body is your instrument. Your entire body must be engaged to sing, dance, and act. No matter where you plan to work in the theatre, your understanding of your own body will always be of benefit to you. Learning about anatomy gives you a better sense of how your body functions, helping you use your body efficiently and to its full capacity, while also preventing injury.

For singers and musical theatre performers, I especially recommend looking into vocal anatomy. Understanding precisely how the voice functions is a powerful thing! You can effectively learn how to “hack” the underlying structure of your voice and use it to your full advantage. It can also explain and make concrete some of the weird tips from your voice teachers you’ve never fully understood. For example, many voice teachers will talk about proper breathing. Once you understand the action of the lungs and the movement of the ribs to accommodate them, you can get a better sense of how proper breathing looks and feels.

As a small bonus point, I highly recommend learning a bit about body mapping— this will help you translate your anatomical knowledge to concrete behaviors!

2. Psychology

Directors, writers, and actors alike can all find use for training in psychology. Similar to learning anatomy, learning about psychology will help you understand how and why people work, but on a mental level. When it comes to analyzing characters and developing blocking, your understanding of psychology can create more realistic characterizations.

A large part of acting is stepping into another person’s shoes. Some basic psychology knowledge can help you do this more effectively, and move beyond the realm of feelings and emotions to scientific human behavior. One isn’t necessarily better than the other! However, if you find your acting feels overly charged or superficial, psychology might be able to help you.

Understanding psychology can also be of benefit to actors offstage. Psychology can help you understand the best practices for learning and memorizing lines, or impressing casting agents in the audition room. Understanding how your brain works and how others’ brains work is truly of benefit to anyone!

3. Speech Pathology and Linguistics

Though these are two different fields, I am lumping them together in this article because they will serve us similar purposes. Just as understanding how the singing voice works benefits singers, understanding how your speaking voice works benefits anyone who speaks. Actors do a lot of speaking. By understanding the structures that produce sound and the best practices for manipulating these structures to get desired results, you can improve your vocal stamina and volume with reduced risk of injury. Say goodbye to strained throats caused by long rehearsals!

Both of these subject areas will touch upon the anatomy of the vocal tract and how our mouths shape sounds. Speech pathology is as a discipline focussed on the correct production of speech and fixing problems therein, whereas linguistics is about language and sound as it relates to language. These are slight shades of difference to the untrained eye. A beginner’s understanding of either field can prove beneficial for anyone who uses their voice on the regular.

4. Marketing and Networking

As an actor, part of your job is to effectively “sell” yourself in an audition. How well you manage to perfect this process can have a big impact on your acting career! Therefore, becoming well-versed in how to market yourself is of dire importance for every actor.

Learning to perfect “the art of the pitch” will benefit you no matter what role you occupy in the theater. Actors pitch themselves and their characterizations to directors in auditions. Directors must pitch show choices and interpretations to artistic boards or their casts. Writers must pitch their own shows to producers. Designers must pitch their art to directors and creators. In school theatre, teachers must work to pitch the entire program to their administration and community to prove their importance! No matter where you work in theatre, you’ll find some knowledge of how to market your ideas useful. Otherwise, someone else better at it will eclipse you!

Nowadays online marketing is relatively easy, which means you have to work extra hard to stand out. Familiarizing yourself with social media algorithms and content crafting is important for anyone seeking to be seen online. Whether you are looking to expand your school program, advertise your new theatre company, or build a personal website to go with your acting resume, marketing knowledge is your ticket!

Acting is notoriously about who you know rather than what you know. Master the arts of networking with the right people and marketing yourself to them accordingly, and you may find lucrative returns.

5. Wellness, nutrition, and personal health

Basically, “how to take care of yourself.”

When your body is your instrument and you submit a photo of your face with every resume, your physical and emotional wellbeing is important. Your physical fitness will effect your stamina on stage and impact the kind of dancing and blocking you can keep up with. If you don’t exercise regularly in some form, you are handicapping yourself on stage. There is plenty to be said about the superficial beauty-queen side of acting, but leave all that aside for a moment– It is important that you are at your very best so you can be at your very best. This means eating well, getting proper rest and hydration, taking care of yourself when ill, and finding a physical activity that speaks to you.

You also need to be able to take care of your emotions and mental health. Acting means accepting a constant stream of rejection and criticism. You won’t be able to handle the work if you can’t handle this. Familiarize yourself with coping mechanisms or seek help to do so!

6. Finances

Acting is a notoriously lean profession. It doesn’t necessarily have to be! Keeping track of personal finances is a skill absolutely every actor should become intimately familiar with. I’m certainly no expert, so I have relatively little advice to offer here, except that this is absolutely crucial if you plan on attempting to make a living from theatre. Find good resources to learn from and spend wisely!


There is always more to learn! Because performing requires so many miscellaneous skills and benefits from the performer experiencing many things in life, actors shouldn’t discount the opportunity to learn about anything. All learning can be of benefit, even if indirectly. Take the time to learn something new every day!

15 Tips for Improving Your Singing Skills

While I’m no singing expert, I have spent the last several years working to improve. I’ve learned a ton. I’ve become a lot more confident in my ability and have a stronger, more supported sound to show for all the effort! There’s still have a lot of work to do, but I also have a lot of knowledge to share from my years of struggle.

Here are 15 assorted tips for improving your singing voice!

1. Practice Daily

This is one of the best things you can do for yourself if you’re seeking to improve. When you practice daily, you flex all of the muscles associated with singing and improve your vocal stamina. Treat your voice like a muscle. If you don’t use it frequently, you’ll lose it! Singing daily will also help you get a feel for your own voice– how it feels and sounds at its best, and what it feels and sounds like when something is wrong. It doesn’t have to be hard, strenuous singing each day– practice as simple as light humming or singing along with the radio can be beneficial.

2. Don’t skimp on warm ups

Especially if you’re getting ready for a performance or some hard core practice– make sure you warm up! Warming up will make sure your vocal folds are ready for action and that you don’t injure yourself by leaping into the hard stuff. Warming up before a performance will keep you sounding your best. It gives you an opportunity to practice whatever you need to before you get out there, such as high notes or quick patter. If you’re wrapping up a long rehearsal or performance, warming down can also be of benefit– it gives the vocal folds a chance to “unwind” from the work. Doing a quick 10 or 15 minute warmup session per day counts as daily practice, too!

3. Find a voice teacher

A good voice teacher is absolutely crucial if you’re serious about honing your skills. One on one training is mandatory to really reach your highest potential. A skilled teacher can help you learn to reach your goals in a healthy, effective way, and can provide constructive feedback to help you get there. If you don’t already have a voice teacher you love, find one ASAP.

4. Train your technique

Learning about vocal technique is also crucial if you’re serious about singing. Learning proper technique will help you sound your best while singing healthfully. You can do your own research on this– there are lots of resources available online– but the best way to learn is from a teacher who can help you ensure you’re singing correctly.

5. Perform more

Getting yourself out there more is fun and very beneficial for every singer! Go out for shows, or go to open mic nights and karaoke– every little bit counts. Treat your auditions as a chance to perform! Get more confident and comfortable in front of a crowd, and you’ll find the entire endeavor easier.

6. Learn about vocal anatomy

Understanding the underlying structure and functioning of your voice will help you understand the best practices for singing. This is an often overlooked step in the vocal education process, but is very important for your growth as a singer and relatively easy to explore. YouTube is full of videos offering explanations of vocal anatomy, and there are a wealth of great books on the subject. Anatomy of the Voice by Theodore Dimon Jr is one of my favorites.

7. Learn about vocal health

Also absolutely required for anyone serious about improving their singing is learning about vocal health. Maintaining good vocal health is crucial for growing singers. Young singers especially have a habit of stressing and straining their voices because they simply don’t know better– this can be disastrous in the long-term. Learning about how to take care of your voice and use it properly will keep you in top shape and prevent vocal injury.

8. Learn basic written and aural theory 

This won’t improve your singing voice necessarily, but it will help you to learn music quicker, be better in tune with other singers and the music, and help you detect intonation in your own singing. It also makes riffing and harmonizing easier! There are a wealth of music theory and ear training resources out there, especially in app form. A few minutes of practice a day can quickly translate to easier learning and better performances.

9. Hear more trained singers

Just as visual artists can learn a lot by going to a museum and actors can learn from watching other actors, singers learn from hearing great singing! This is especially useful when learning about good singing technique. Some singers like Barbra Streisand and Whitney Houston are famous for their impeccable technique. Seeking out masters in the field and finding what they do well can be very helpful for your growth.

10. Seek feedback 

If you’re taking my advice to seek a good voice teacher, hopefully this is already occurring. Seeking constructive criticism and advice from many sources is always beneficial. However, remember to take all feedback with a grain of salt, especially if you don’t know the critic’s credentials– great advice is hard to come by, and not everyone is qualified to give it.

11. Take care of your voice

Once you’ve learned more about proper technique and vocal health, taking care of your voice becomes a much more intuitive job. You’ll begin to get a feel for what is destructive to your voice and what is beneficial. In general, remember to keep yourself hydrated, and never strain yourself trying to sing far beyond your comfort zone. Consistent vocal stress can lead to injury, which can end careers early. Keep yourself at your best!

12. Explore different styles

Many singers like to choose a lane and stick in it. In musical theatre, this lane is often “contemporary musical theatre pop style”. While there’s nothing wrong with this, experimenting with other styles can broaden your range and introduce you to a wealth of useful skills. Consider trying classical bel canto style or opera, or get into rock and growling. You will learn transferable skills from each, and all singing (as long as it is done healthfully) will be beneficial for you.

13. Do your own research

There are a wealth of resources available to singers looking to improve themselves. The internet makes many of these resources free. Start looking for books, ebooks, websites, podcasts, YouTube channels, apps, blogs, magazines/e-zines, documentaries, and more relating to singing! Your options are endless and there’s never been a better time to find learning materials in an instant!

14. Find your own voice 

Many singers, especially young or new singers, are tempted to imitate styles of singers they respect or look up to. This can be damaging, as attempting to imitate the style of a trained singer without the very same training can cause vocal strain and injury. Therefore, it’s imperative that singers find and become comfortable with their own voice. This can be difficult to teach. Finding your own voice requires time and lots of comfort with singing. In the meantime, ensure you are not straining yourself to imitate Broadway stars or popular artists, and think about putting your own spin on their work. Your voice teacher, assuming you take my advice and seek one out, will be able to help you in this endeavor.

15. Join a choir 

Choir is a great way to learn more about music while flexing your singing voice! It also requires you to learn to blend and tune with others, and allows you to learn in a group environment. Plus, assuming you like to sing, choir is fun! Seek one out in your local community or at your school. The benefits really can’t be overstated.

Bonus Point: Be Confident

Nothing really sells a performance like confidence. Even if your singing needs work, confidence can mask some of your shakier points. Fake it until you make it! Keep practicing and getting better, but be happy with the growth you’ve made, and continue to show off your stuff: you’ll be a pro in no time.

A Director’s Guide to Making your Set Builds and Strikes more User-Friendly

Getting your cast and crew to stay focussed and productive during set build and especially strike is always a challenge. Although it can seem like inaction on the part of your actors is purely a matter of laziness or disrespect, many actors simply don’t know how to help or be useful. If you want to keep everyone active, some small steps on the part of the director can help.

Keep your goals clear and visible.

Make sure your team is clear on everything that needs to be done for the day, and make these goals visible. If you have access to a large whiteboard, write out every individual goal for the day. Otherwise, print out sheets of paper and post them somewhere they may be easily referenced. Check off tasks as you go. When everything that needs to be accomplished is clearly established, no one can claim ignorance as an excuse for inaction. It also lessens the amount of questions you’ll have to field– everyone has an easy resource to consult should they complete their task and find themselves seeking another. 

This also makes it easy to keep track of what you’ve accomplished and what will still need done. I’ve been to many set builds where the day’s goals are only clearly enumerated in the TD’s head, and things are easily forgotten. Posting a list anyone can see keeps everybody on track and knowledgeable about the total progress.

Assign specific tasks to specific people.

Don’t just assume your cast and crew know where and how to be helpful. Give everybody a specific task, from your previously established list of goals! If you have enough people, create teams in charge of specific areas. This is especially useful at strike, where you likely have a large cast available to help and a lot of work to get done. For example, you may establish a “dressing room team”, who clean out the dressing rooms, a “costume team”, who gather and store all costume pieces, and a “tear-down team”, responsible for the heavy work being done on stage. When one team finishes, they can find another team to assist. 

Teams are a good way to “divide and conquer” when it comes to your goals for the day. This allows several tasks to be reliably undertaken at once. If you establish teams, make sure you group people who are liable to work well together! Otherwise, teams may wind up being less productive than individual work.

Establish leaders besides yourself. 

You may find yourself quickly swamped with questions if a lot of people are approaching a lot of different tasks. To take the pressure off of you and keep the work flowing smoothly, make sure everyone knows who besides you they can report to with questions. You can also appoint leaders for each “department”– for example, establish one person as the authority on costumes, one as the authority on props, one as the authority on construction/tear down. Ideally, this is your costume master, props master, and TD, though in small theaters or school settings, all of these titles may belong to one person. Dividing the responsibilities keeps things moving and increases accountability. With many authorities, it is easy to supervise lots of work. Actors are also more likely to ask for help if their authority is easily available to help, and not already helping several other people. 

An especially useful authority figure is one who can show people how to do things. For example, if many of your cast don’t know how to use necessary power tools or don’t know the theater’s organization system for props or costumes, having people who can explain protocol to others in invaluable. 

Always be ready to assign further work. 

Inevitably, a time comes during strike and build when one group is accomplishing a particularly difficult task that all the rest depend on, and the rest have nothing to do but sit and wait until this task is completed. There is always a surplus of things to be done in these settings– if only you know what they are when the time comes. Be ready to hand out lots of odd jobs, even if they’re not directly related to what you wanted to accomplish today. For instance, there is always something to be organized, cleaned, or prepared for future rehearsals. Keeping a list of these “nonessential but helpful” tasks ready in case the opportunity arises will keep everybody busy. 

This is especially paramount if you’re working with young actors– downtime can become dangerous, especially minimally supervised downtime!

The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Tech Week

I have a sickness of the mind, and it is that I kind of get a kick out of tech week. The idea of 12 hour rehearsals gets me sort of jazzed sometimes. The head-down, one-foot-in-front-of-the-other grind of tech week is very fulfilling to me. It’s a week to throw the entirety of my energy squarely at two targets: put on a good show and don’t kill yourself. It’s like a week of wilderness survival but for a theatre kid. It’s exhilarating and when it’s done you get to show off all your cool scars (some figurative, most literal).

I’m a dweeb about tech week preparation, it’s true. If tech week is wilderness survival, I am your overenthusiastic survival guide. I will get through it and I will get you through it, too. Just heed my advice.

This guide is divided into four sections: Pre-Tech Preparations, Maintaining Mental and Physical Health, Vocal Health for Dummies, and Show Run Reminders.

Pre-Tech Preparations

Before tech week starts, it is helpful to get some other responsibilities out of your way. Clear your plate, because you won’t have time to keep up with too much else once the week begins.

  • Take care of any homework or work assignments ahead of time, if possible. If there are any big projects due in your life during tech week, get them over with before the week begins, or else have them mostly done before the due date. Tech week is exhausting enough as it is. If you’re like me, putting things off until tech week means they simply won’t get done. You never know what may need taken care of at the last minute for the show– don’t run the risk of leaving yourself without ample time to complete whatever you need to.
  • Clear your schedule as much as possible. This means obviously making sure rehearsals and show nights are free of conflicts, but also applies globally to the week. Schedule yourself as lightly as possible– refrain from making any appointments this week if you can. Work is also a consideration. It’s possible to work 8-5 every weekday and then go to rehearsal every night. It’s even possible to work right up until call for your shows come opening night. However, you are guaranteed to tire out quickly this way. If it’s not absolutely necessary, and you can get away with a few days off, now is a good time to take them! PTO is especially useful in this situation. Of course, not everyone can swing this. I recommend at least getting the days of the show off if possible– you want to be at your absolute best come showtime, not exhausted from working early.
  • Pick up any supplies you may need. I keep all of my supplies in a large tote and bring them with me each night. Below is a non-exhaustive list of things you may want/need:
    • All required costume pieces, makeup, etc
    • Your script/music
    • Bobby pins, hairspray, hairbrushes
    • Makeup wipes
    • Light snacks (I always have an assortment of nuts and crackers)
    • Water, sports drinks
    • Safety pins, tape
    • Bandaids
    • Pencils, hi-lighters, sharpies
    • Throat spray, lozenges
    • Tissues
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Deodorant
    • Phone charger (preferably not your “home” charger, in case you forget it at the theater!)
    • Anything else necessary to maintain your health
  • Make sure you know your stuff! Tech week isn’t time to learn– it’s time to review and polish. Your lines, blocking, set move assignments, and vocal parts should be, at least in very large part, learned by this point.

It’s also important to make sure you’re absolutely clear on when each rehearsal begins and when you are to be at the theater for the shows. In general, don’t leave anything about the week up to fate– be as prepared as you possibly can be.

It’s important to take care of yourself leading up to tech week, or you have no hope of getting through it at your best. Make sure you stock up on all the rest, food, and water you possibly can before tech week begins– you’ll be wanting for it later!

Maintaining Mental and Physical Health

It is absolutely crucial that actors take care of themselves during tech week. It’s so important, I will say it again, in bold this time: it is absolutely crucial that actors take care of themselves during tech week. Our society glorifies working until you drop, but running yourself to your absolute limit absolutely doesn’t help anyone. Think of it this way: if you pass out at rehearsal because you “heroically” skipped dinner to get to the theater on time or injure yourself because you’re asleep on your feet due to staying up all night cramming homework, you can delay rehearsal or stop a performance in its tracks. You can totally undermine all of the effort everyone has put into the show if you don’t take care of yourself. You can suffer severe health consequences, too. For example, if you don’t take care of a sore throat and sing all through tech week and performances with no regard for your health, you can severely damage your voice and be vocally handicapped for weeks or longer. Be smart. Take care of yourself.

Here are some tips for doing so:

  • Always, always, always make food, water, and sleep a priority. This is why I advise you to get other work done and clear your schedule as much as possible– it is most important, now more than ever, that you get proper rest and sustenance. This is what you have worked for for weeks, don’t settle for delivering less than your best. (And you will, unequivocally, deliver less than your best without these health staples.) Get 7+ hours of sleep a night, eat 3 meals a day, drink around 8 cups of water.
  • Stretch and warm up your body before the show. This will help you prevent injury and keep you alert and aware. Acting is a full-body exercise! Warm up each of these muscles before the show begins so you are ready to tackle the performance. Even if the group does stretches together, considering doing further stretching on your own time. You should know your body better than anybody else; therefore, your perception of when your body is warmed up and ready will be unique from everyone else’s. Keep going until you feel totally prepared, and then stretch a little more, for good measure.
  • Take care of your face! The routine of putting on and removing stage makeup each and every night can be a lot of stress on your skin. Always be sure to remove your makeup and rinse your face thoroughly. Pay attention to your eye makeup, too– although it can be harder to remove, heavy eye makeups can cause styes, itchiness, and dryness if left alone all week. If you’re not familiar with facial care, consider looking up some tutorials on YouTube to get an idea of how to save your skin during this week!
  • Minimize stress as much as possible. This sounds like a funny joke, I know. However, stress can cause somatic symptoms like stomach problems and sleep disruptions at worst, and keep you off your game at best. Minimizing your other commitments and being prepared for the week will help keep the stress load light.
  • Keep yourself clean. Maintaining personal hygiene will never be as paramount as it is in tech week. Shows are gross and sweaty, and no one likes to be (or be near) the smelly person in the dressing room. Bathe, brush your teeth, wash your hands frequently. I like to take a quick shower before I leave for every tech rehearsal and performance, if possible– even if not totally necessary. This is also a good way to “reset” your mind from the day and get in the zone for the show.
  • Sickness and injuries must be taken care of. Take you vitamin C and go to the doctor if you’re sick. Manage your symptoms and pain, and absolutely take it easy if you must.
  • Save yourself for the show. Don’t go giving 110% every night of tech. Save your voice, energy, and muscles for the performance. This doesn’t mean slack off during rehearsal, but go easy on yourself. Your director will understand.
  • Pretend you’re a healthy person. Even if you’re usually a hot mess, tech week is a great time to play the part of a person who has it all together. If you convince yourself that you’re organized, dependable, and healthfully-minded just for the week, you’ll be better inclined to take care of yourself and keep up with whatever the week throws at you. Eat the right foods, get your exercise, meditate, use essential oils. Whatever you need to do to trick yourself into staying on top of things, do it!
  • Reward yourself. Disregard my previous point for a moment, now. A big part of maintaining your mental health during tech week is giving yourself a pat on the back for the work you’re doing. So don’t skimp on the self-care this week: Take a bubble bath, do a face mask, eat some cake, sleep in a little. Just don’t reward yourself in a way that might be deleterious– for example, getting wasted after a performance and having a wicked hangover for your matinee is never a winning option.

Maintain your life outside the show– remember, once the week is done, you’ll have to go back to all those other realities you need to attend to. However, let the show be your main focus, just for now. This way, you can cut down on the stress of juggling thirty different tasks and ensure you’ve got the energy to perform at your best.

Vocal Health for Dummies

It is alarmingly common during tech week to hear complaints about sore, strained throats with no plan for restoring and maintaining vocal health. Again, don’t run yourself into the ground– take care of yourself! Aim for prevention of injury or illness, and if this fails, absolutely make recovery a priority. Here are some tips regarding keeping your voice in the best possible shape during a strenuous production week:

  • Drink water. This is a mandatory baseline. When you sing, it is the mucousy  membrane lining the surface of your vocal folds that does most of the vibrating required for sound production. These membranes absolutely need to be hydrated. Hydration is also useful for flushing phlegm from the throat, soothing and repairing strain, and keeping the rest of your body healthy. Drink water.
    • Soda/Pop is not a substitute for water, and creates excess phlegm in the throat.
    • Alcohol, coffee, and sugary beverages like energy drinks will dry out your throat even more. Avoid them as much as possible.
  • Warm up and warm down, gently and thoroughly. Even if the group does warmups together, you should know what your voice feels like when it is warmed up– do what is necessary for you to be prepared, not what is necessary for everyone else. Thorough warm ups can prevent injury and keep you sounding your best. A gentle warm down, such as humming, is a good way to relax the muscles after all the hard work of performing and helps you mentally wind down from the day’s work.
  • Prevent injury. Avoid over-singing, and avoid anything that is stressful to your voice, such as screaming, whispering, coughing, or clearing your throat. If you begin to feel pain, assume you are beginning to strain your vocal folds and back off.
  • Immediately respond to symptoms. As I’ve already asserted, you should be the authority on your own body. If you start feeling pain in your throat, heed the message! Strain is very common during tech week, as performing so much can take a heavy toll, especially if you aren’t used to performing often and don’t have strong stamina built up, or if you are recovering from previous vocal injuries or sickness. When you feel pain, it is important you assess and respond.
    • Am I sick or am I strained?This is a valuable question to ask, though the treatment for both will be relatively similar. A “sick” sore throat will often feel rather different from a “strained” sore throat.
      • Sickness: Raw or dry feeling in back of throat, “thickness” or tickle in the throat, accompanying symptoms of illness such as sinus problems, fever, etc.
      • Strain: Pain in the musculature in any part of the neck or throat, especially under the chin or around the sides/front of the neck. Pain might get better when the voice is not in use. Voice might sound breathy, raw, or weak, especially when singing.
      • If you are totally unable to discern whether you are sick or feeling the effects of strain, continue as if both were the problem, just to be safe.
    • Treatments for sickness:
      • See your doctor for diagnosis and more complete advice.
      • Take Vitamin C.
      • Expel excess phlegm from the body– blow your nose and attempt to clear post-nasal drainage, which can irritate the throat.
      • Avoid coughing or clearing the throat as much as possible. If you’re phlegmy, you might feel the urge to do so a lot, but it can be very damaging. Clear the throat with some gentle vocal warm ups (lip trills and 5-note arpeggios are good) or by drinking water– not by force.
      • Remember to clean/replace water bottles, lest you reinfect yourself.
      • Drink water.
      • Get plenty of rest.
      • Avoid misuse of the voice and go easy during rehearsals.
    • Treatments for strain:
      • Immediately cease misuse.
      • Go on vocal rest, if at all possible.
      • Assess singing habits (with the help of your vocal coach/music director, if possible) for damaging behaviors, and immediately seek to change them.
      • If possible, sing a different voice part closer to your natural range, or don’t sing at all in rehearsal. (Discuss with your director/music director so they don’t think you’re just slacking off.)
      • Be sure to warm up and warm down extra gently.
      • Drink water.
      • Get plenty of rest.
    • Remove the cause, not just the symptom: … but manage your symptoms, too. Here are some suggestions for soothing the pain in your throat:
      • Drink water… or hot drinks like tea for immediate relief.
      • Gelatin is soothing to a sore throat– Marshmallows are a common method of consumption.
      • Honey does wonders.
      • Potato chips are a weird suggestion, but they work. Try plain Lay’s the next time you have a sore throat.
      • Toast can be good for gently scraping some of the phlegm out of your throat, if you’re feeling especially “gunked up”.
      • Apples (and many other fruits) are full of Vitamin C, high in water content, and contain acids that can gently flush phlegm from the throat. Therefore, they’re pretty great for performers. Apple cider vinegar is even better, if you can stomach it– adding a small amount to a glass of water is a good way to flush toxins from your system.
      • REMEMBER THAT SOOTHING PAIN IS NOT THE SAME AS SOLVING THE PROBLEM. Drinking lots of Throat Coat and then singing away as though healthy just because your pain is temporarily gone isn’t the goal. Pain is important– it sends us valuable messages. By all means, soothe your pain, but remember to take it easy and seek to solve the underlying problem rather than only the symptom.
  • Avoid eating right before performing. Though nothing you eat will ever actually touch your vocal folds, eating directly before a performance can make your voice feel “thick” and hard to manage.
    • Side note on this: Dairy. Some say it makes them phlegmy and swear it off in the days before performing, some don’t care. Find what works for you and do that. How you feel is most important!

The most important take away from this section is take care of your voice. And also drink water.

Show Run Reminders

These are some general reminders for tech week and the show beyond:

  • Always pay attention to what your body is telling you, and immediately stop and inform your director/stage manager/music director/authority who can help when something is painful or feels wrong. If you feel dehydrated or lightheaded, take a minute to seek solutions and ensure you are alright before trucking on with the show.
  • Maintain your health above all else. Sleep, drink water, eat enough food.
  • Be responsible at your after-parties, especially if you still have shows left. If you have no shows left, go wild, but always be wary of potentially harmful situations. You can’t perform well in the future if you’re dead.
  • Keep alert by getting enough rest and getting light exercise. If you must drink coffee or an energy drink, seek low-sugar options, and drink it well enough in advance that you have time to chase it with water and keep your vocal folds effectively hydrated. This goes double for energy drinks: drinking these too close to the show can cause your heart rate to rise sharply and suddenly especially when nerves or lots of dance are factored into the equation. This can lead to hospitalization. Be careful, and avoid these “boosts” as much as possible. Get energy the old-fashioned way– with sleep!
  • Stay in the moment, especially once the rehearsal run or performance starts. Keep yourself fully occupied with the tasks at hand and save the rest for later. This will help you avoid stupid mistakes!
  • The worse the dress rehearsal, the better the show, or so they say. Don’t get too down about rough rehearsals. Just fix what you can for the next one and keep plugging along. A negative attitude won’t help you succeed.
  • Know when to give your all. You’ve got only a small handful of chances to perform– so don’t tire yourself out prematurely by going to hard during tech week. Save yourself for the show, and then give 110%.

Final Thoughts

Drink water.

Tech week can be long and painful, or it can be relatively painless and easy if you take care of yourself and keep up with the punches. Opt for the easy route: get sleep, get hydration, get sustenance, keep yourself healthy!

10 Ways to get an Education in Theatre Outside of College

A college education in theatre is an incredible opportunity. However, for many reasons, it’s not always attainable. With the current cost of college, any degree should be closely examined for its post-graduation worth. Though a theatre degree is as worthwhile as any other degree, the capital required to earn the degree is a huge barrier for many, with often uncertain returns.

Whether you cannot afford a degree, or are in the process of preparing for a degree, it is necessary that those seeking education take initiative. In today’s society, the ability to learn on your own is paramount. There are many resources available waiting to be taken advantage of by those committed to their own growth!

Here are 10 suggestions for taking your education on theatre into your own hands.

1. Learn on the job.

This is hopefully the most obvious way one can learn about theatre– do more of it. I place this first on the list because I believe it is also the most important. Do as much theatre as you can, in as many places as you can, in as many ways as you can. Branch out! While it’s good to determine favorite production companies or theaters to work with, and the connections derived from frequent work together are highly important in an industry as reliant on who you know as theatre, it’s also in your best interest to see a gamut of styles, atmospheres, and conditions. Seek as many different locations as you can, and seek varied work there. If community theatre is your usual gig, consider going to some professional-level auditions. If you normally act, consider trying directing or stage managing. Even if all of these experiences don’t lead to big roles or opportunities, the opportunity to evaluate the experience and use it as wisdom later is invaluable.

I must absolutely emphasize that any engagement with theatre in any way is a success. Usher for shows. Take tickets for shows. Be a carpenter, costumer, or props master. Act in the ensemble. Go out for auditions for ensemble and get cut. As you work your way into more roles in theatre, you will broaden your skillset, build your resume, and create for yourself a more holistic understanding of the art. This is a fun and free (maybe even paid!) way to learn!

2. Go to classes, lectures, and private lessons.

The very same classes offered at $500 a credit to college students are often offered much cheaper through other means. Search your area for opportunities like classes, lectures, talkbacks, seminars, readings, and private lessons. Community colleges are cheaper and less commitment than large universities, and often offer “non-credited” classes to the public body. Some performing arts companies and theaters offer classes on the side, and private voice and speech teachers are usually easy to track down, depending on your area. Local Facebook events are a fantastic way to search for these opportunities! If you struggle to find anything nearby, “webinars” and skype lessons can also be beneficial.

It’s important to remember that some classes aren’t going to be as good as others. Be wary of taking anything as gospel in these classes. Unless it really, personally works for you, it simply may not be your style. Add it to your personal bank of information and move along if that’s the case. However, remember that an important part of education is keeping yourself open to possibilities– even if you’re skeptical, remember to search for meaning and use in every opportunity.

Speaking of keeping your mind open, remember that there are a variety of skills connected to theatre, and I want you to dip your toes into as many areas of theatre as possible. Therefore, a community college class in welding or carpentry totally counts here! Any way you expand your horizons is never wasted.

One on one classes in voice are so beneficial to anyone interested in musical theatre, I heartily recommend them whether you are currently in theatre school or not. Find a voice teacher you love and never let go!

3. Read, read, read

Reading is a great way to learn, especially if you’re limited on time, monetary resources, or mobility. Nonfiction can be a little dry, but when you’re passionate about the subject, it becomes easier– and learning to read and understand nonfiction is a valuable skill! Check your local libraries for books on or related to theatrical arts. If this fails, you can also seek ebooks. Scribd.com is a great resources for ebooks, for a small monthly fee– much cheaper than individual purchases. You can also find books heavily discounted on Amazon if you’re lucky– I bought Anthony Rapp’s memoir on his Rent experience, Without Youfor $0.01 (plus $3.49 shipping) through Amazon. Shop around! Of course, you can also buy books full price at bookstores, but I always recommend thrifting before going for the gusto.

If you’re absolutely diametrically opposed to nonfiction, there’s hope: reading plays and scripts is also beneficial to your growth! Again, consider seeking these cheaply before purchasing them full-price. Scripts are often easy to find online.

You can also consider taking out subscriptions to magazines or news services related to theatre!

4. Use online resources

Alt title for this point: “Duh, use the internet, you goof.”

There are quite literally infinite educational resources online. YouTube, podcasts, blogs, and Facebook groups have, at times, done more for my education than anything else. Best of all– they’re typically completely free.

Seriously, if you need a resource for anything, you can bet your bottom dollar you can find it for free online. Want to learn how to work the archaic light board at the high school where you’re volunteering? Great news, here’s a complete YouTube tutorial and a copy of the user manual that the school lost the instant they installed it. Want to learn how to sew costumes? Here’s a thousand free downloadable templates with step-by-step instructions in the readme file. Don’t know much about theatre history? Here’s a twice-weekly podcast and a blog that’s been active since 2008 written by a PhD holder.

Do yourself a favor right now and google any topic related to theatre you want to learn about. Right now. It’s free and easy and fuller than any library you can imagine. Go wild.

Apps can also be highly useful in this department!

5. Seek employment

If you’re lacking the free time and capital to attend classes and volunteer your time for rehearsals, seeking a paying job even tangentially related to theatre is a great move for your wallet and career.

Available jobs will often deal with the business and customer service side of theatre more than the artistic fulfillment side. As I’ve already established, this is all useful to your education, and since it’s connected to your passion, it’s easier to stomach than retail or food service in terms of jobs requiring entry-level skills. Even if you can’t find a job in a theater, there are a lot of jobs where you can flex theatre skills– “Princess Parties”, where actors dress as princesses for children’s birthday parties, Renaissance Festival work, and haunted house gigs are popular paid acting opportunities among my theatre friends. Anything requiring public speaking is also generally of your benefit.

Jobs in technical theatre are usually readily available as well. Join your area’s technical theatre job-seeking Facebook group. Stagehands and riggers are almost always in demand, especially for concerts and music events.

Keep an ear out, and make those connections! You never know where a seemingly insignificant job opportunity can turn into a better one.

6. Create a study group

If you have a lot of friends interested in theatre, there’s nothing stopping you from getting together to learn. Start a book club and read plays together! Do table reads of your favorite shows! Critique each others’ audition songs! Start an unofficial improv troupe! Possibilities are endless as long as you are all committed and willing to learn.

7. Practice skills on your own

Theatre is a team sport, so solo learning can be a little antithetical. Further, having the input of others is often very beneficial, and at times crucial, to your growth. However, there are a lot of tangential, useful skills that can be practiced entirely on your own.

Think about things that are relevant to theatre. Being physically in shape is important, as is being flexible. In musical theatre, basic piano and music reading abilities are useful. The ability to analyze characters and scripts gets easier with practice. These are all skills you can flex on your own.

8. See more theatre

Seeing theatre is just as important as being in theatre to growth as a performer. Similar to the first point, see as much of it as possible, in as many places as possible. See school theatre. See community theatre. See touring broadway companies and one-person shows in coffee shops. Go to improv shows and voice recitals. See shows you love and shows you hate and shows you’ve never heard of. See classic Greek plays and contemporary rock musicals.

Don’t be afraid to be a critic. While airing negative opinions about every performance you see is unlikely to net you friends, and is a quick way to get your name out there in a rather bad way, thinking about what you did and didn’t like about every performance is invaluable. Having an opinion is great! Just maybe keep your thoughts to yourself. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!”

9. (Social) Network

If you’re doing and seeing and auditioning for as many shows as possible in as many places as possible as well as taking classes, as I’ve advised, you’re probably doing okay in this department already. Theatre is an industry where who you know is especially useful to you, and you never know when connections may come in handy.

More importantly, I’m also a huge proponent of “learning by osmosis”: simply immersing yourself in a culture and letting it wash over you is a great way to learn. Surround yourself with conversations about and related to theatre, even if you don’t fully understand all of it. Social media is a great way to do this. Follow Twitter pages and Tumblr blogs and join Facebook groups! Especially feel free to follow groups/pages/people posting about things you don’t know much about. If you’re an actor, join a high school theatre teacher group. If you’re a stage manager, follow pages handing out vocal tips. Taking in information through passive Facebook-feed scrolling is an easy way to expand upon your knowledge.

Also included in this point: get out there, people! Go to meet-ups, conferences, conventions. Most importantly, and most easily, go to your cast parties and company galas! I’m not encouraging you to schmooze, but you never know where rubbing elbows with the right people might lead you.

10. Do your research

This is a bit of a cheat-point, since it’s tangentially connected to every other point, but the best possible thing you can do for your education is explore your options. Find out what’s available to you. Seek out local theaters and theatre people. Find free PDFs of books. Read news articles and blog posts. Watch documentaries. Get into conversations and debates and disagreements with actor friends. There are possibilities for growth in literally everything you are doing already– explore those possibilities. Figure out how to use them to your advantage!

Bonus point: You’re never done learning

This is less of a “way to learn” than it is a word of caution: make yourself an expert on as much as you can, and then, once you’re an expert, throw all of your assumptions away and seek to learn from new experts. Seek feedback on everything you do, even from people who know less than you. Learn about stuff you know nothing about, learn about new ways of doing things you’ve resigned to habit. Keep learning, and never rest on your laurels.

We live in an age where information has never been easier to find. We also live in an age where education prices are astronomical and the cost of living rises every day. The resources you want and need are out there– you need only to track them down.

How to be Useful at your Required Strike when you have no Technical Abilities

Post-show strikes are made easier when more people lend their hands to the cause. Many actors avoid them as much as possible, however, because they simply don’t know how to help. While technical skills are of benefit to every performer, and I heartily recommend every actor get the gist of as many backstage skills as possible, many times the issue is simply “what can I do besides stand around the whole time?”

Here is a set of suggestions for everyone, no matter their strength, skill, or abilities, regarding making themselves useful at strike. The list starts with the least technically-inclined options, with the “hardest” options at the end.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask where you can help. The director, stage manager, and technical director should all be able to point you in the right direction, and many of your cast and crew will also happily accept help if you offer it. Of course, use your best judgement– asking for direction repeatedly while others are busy with their own work can get annoying and makes it seem like you lack initiative.
  • See if any painting needs done. The stage or walls may need primed and repainted if such is practice in the theater. This is almost always one of the last steps of strike, but it’s one anyone can do!
  • Get on cleaning duty. Strike requires much more than tearing down sets and lights. The lobby, house, bathrooms, greenroom, and dressing rooms may all be part of strike. Find out what needs cleaned– anyone can take care of organizing scattered materials, gathering items for the lost and found, vacuuming, or wiping down surfaces. However, remember that strike is messy business! Don’t bother cleaning anything that is likely to be trashed again by the end of the process until all of the work is done.
  • Take out the trash. As the set gets ripped apart, a surplus of discarded hardware, bits of wood, and miscellaneous trash will likely quickly accumulate. Gathering this and throwing it away keeps the space clear for other, more important work. Just because something has been used doesn’t necessary mean it is garbage. Again, use your best judgement– Large sheets of plywood or bits of lumber at a reasonable length can be reused, as can screws that aren’t stripped (meaning, the “X” on the head is not deformed in any way) or otherwise mangled. Anything broken, badly damaged, or under a reasonably useful size should be trashed.
  • Assist with costumes, props, or furniture. Returning these pieces to the theater storage is often relatively light work. If you have the muscle, lifting furniture into trucks or up and down stairs can be very helpful at this step– the “heavy” muscle is typically assisting with the technical work at this time.
  • Return reusable lumber and hardware to storage. Make sure you are clear on what should be trashed and what should be kept. If there are no organizational rules about where these things should go, strike may be a good time to do some organizing!
  • Be ready to help lift, lower, and store structures. Small structures like legs and flats can be taken to storage by those with less strength. Often, large structures like platforms need to be lowered onto one side or moved in order to be taken apart. Even if you lack muscle, lifting these as a group effort is easiest, and more hands are always beneficial. If you see people struggling to lift something, don’t take the time to worry about if you’re strong enough to help– just help!
  • Don’t be afraid of the tools. Even if you’ve never used certain tools before, there will likely be someone willing to show you what to do with them. Removing screws or bolts from structures is a necessary step in the process. Hammering staples and nails flat in pieces to be trashed or stored is also an easy, low-stress, but important job.

Now that you have some suggestions for how to make yourself useful, here are some friendly reminders of what isn’t useful:

  • Don’t get in harm’s way. If you feel unsafe with something, leave it to those better equipped to handle it. Everyone would rather you pass off the job to someone else than be injured. Further, if you’re waiting for a job or for instruction, make sure you’re not, say, in the path of a light rail coming in, or underfoot when people are lifting heavy objects. Stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Don’t play supervisor. Regardless of how poorly you feel others may be doing their jobs, nothing is worse than watching someone simply stand back and tell others what to do. If you feel you must give direction to someone, do it, and then return to your own work. However, make sure you ask yourself, Am I a reliable authority on this issue? If the answer is no, consider keeping your advice to yourself.
  • Don’t hide. This is a popular pastime for those who don’t know what to do with themselves at strike. Yes, we have noticed you’ve been mysteriously missing for the last three hours. No, it’s not a good look.
  • Don’t leave. Even if you have to leave early for any reason, try to be helpful in some way before you go. It’s better for everyone (yourself included) if you do a little rather than nothing.

Ultimate Guide to Auditioning for Musical Theatre

I get pretty manic about auditioning for shows, especially when I really want to nab a part. Since theatre is basically just a never-ending cycle of auditions, I have a lot of thoughts about how to make them count.

Here is basically all of the advice I could possibly think to put in one place on the art and craft of auditioning, step by step, from before you even find a song, to what to do post-cast list.

I must note, I’m not an expert. This is just the assemblage of my personal knowledge and experience. The tips I hand out have been helpful to me, but may not work for everyone. Take what you may from this post and leave the rest behind. I won’t be offended.

Further, my advice applies mostly to non-professional community and school theatre, as that has been my domain. If you’re seeking audition advice for something in a professional domain, you may be better served seeking information elsewhere. Many of my tips should be helpful for any level of performance, however!

For the sake of clarity and readability, I’m dividing this into five parts: Research, Picking a Song, Prepping and Rehearsing, The Audition, and Aftermath.

Part One: Research

This should be your very first step. I’ve spent months in the research phase before auditions. The longer you spend at this step, the more prepared you’ll be for everything else!

  • Check Wikipedia. The Wikipedia page dedicated to the musical is a great starting point. Get your basic info at a glance: writer/composer/lyricist, era, synopsis, character breakdown and OBC, song list, notable performances and revisions, news and reception. I recommend this whether you know nothing about the show, or if it’s an old favorite. This sets the foundation for everything else you need to know.
  • Checking the licensing company’s website for info about the show can provide more specific info. You can find this by googling “[show name] licensing”. Here you can usually see a cast size breakdown, character ranges, and more in-depth character descriptions and synopses.
  • Listen to the show, preferably several times. This is a semi-passive step that can add productivity to plenty of car rides and showers! If you have an idea of which character you’d like to try for, now is a good time to see if you can discern where their highest and lowest notes are in the score (since you’ve previously scoped out characters’ ranges). I recommend listening to the OBC recording (or whatever professional recording is available) first, followed by any other regional/movie/revival recordings you can find. It also doesn’t hurt to look up performances of some of your favorites on YouTube! You can often find fantastic covers by professionals.
  • Watch the show. I consider this step vital. It gives you a better idea of the plot and flow of the action. If you’re lucky, there may be a performance happening soon in your area! However, assuming the stars don’t align, you’ll have to watch a video. If you’re not down with bootlegs, you can always try looking for professional recordings like the Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway film or anything posted on Broadway HD. Since “Live” musicals are becoming popular, you could try those as well, though they’re not always of the best quality. If you don’t mind bootlegging, the search for specific shows can be hard, but joining social media groups dedicated to sharing can be helpful. I usually like to watch the OBC if at all possible, and then I’ll usually look for a good community theatre or high school production as well. Depending on when the recording was taken, these local productions are likely performing the version of the show available for licensing, which means they may be highly relevant to your preparations!
  • Read the script/score. The internet can make this very easy! Scribd.com is a  great resource for scripts and music, I highly recommend an account. I like to read through the entire script and scan through the whole score at least once each. Even if you can’t find the script for the precise version you’d be performing, glancing over any copy can still be useful just to get a rough idea of what to expect.
  • Read/watch any source material, if at all possible. Before auditioning for The Addams Family Musical, watching the movies and scoping out some episodes of the TV show can’t hurt. You might not have time to read the entirety of Little Women or Les Miserables before your auditions for these shows, but you can read some excerpts or skim for some important events! Remember, the adaptations likely won’t follow the source material exactly, but you can get valuable insight into the characters and universe nonetheless.
  • See if there’s a TVTropes page for the musical. This is a step I discovered while preparing for my role as Miss Honey in Matilda– the TVTropes page for that musical provided a lot of insight into certain jokes and characters. Even if there’s not a page for the musical, check the one for the source material. It’s definitely worth a glance!
  • Check YouTube for things like interviews with OBC or writers, behind-the-scenes info, show or character analyses, etc.

By the end of your research process, you should have a solid idea of who all of the characters are and have a concept of how much they actually do in the show. Your understanding of the character you are interested in playing should be rather deep. Practically speaking, you should be able to recognize the songs they are in and their vocal range. Ideally, you’ll return to this process several times through the audition process, and through the rehearsal process as well should you nail the audition.

Part Two: Picking a Song

This step can be made easier if you already have a robust repertoire of songs in your audition book. For the purposes of this article, I’ll assume you do not, and that you must pick an entirely new one for this audition. In the event songs from the show are allowed (they typically are not), there is a small section at the end of this part about choosing songs from within the show. Your audition song may also be provided for you– this is especially common in school auditions and children’s theatre. If this is the case, jump to Part Three.

Your audition song can do many things, ideally: it should match the style of the show (ex, golden age song for a golden age show), match the personality of the show/character, match the target character’s vocal range (in the chosen cut), show off any necessary vocal skills (like patter, wordiness, belting, or maybe even yodeling), plus, most importantly, show off the best of your voice, tone, and range. Ideally, I like when role I want is clearly evident from the song I choose.

You don’t have to try to tick all of these boxes for every audition song. In fact, I’d rather you choose a song from your book that has nothing to do with the character that you can sing fantastically than a song you’ve chosen specifically for this role that you cannot sing at all.

When finding the perfect song, I usually look through what I know first. I’ll scroll through my iTunes library and see if I have anything that may match. When this fails, google is your friend. Don’t be afraid to get specific with these searches– while “alto audition songs” might be a good starting point, “golden age belter audition songs” might yield more workable results. You can also try googling, say, “Little Women audition songs” or “Jo March audition songs”. These may yield some very fitting results, but it’s very likely many others will use the same tags in their search, and uniqueness is generally of your benefit in auditions.

Make sure the song you choose has a good cut somewhere. Double-check whether the audition calls for a 16- or 32-bar cut, or something else. Sometimes you’ll find a perfect song that has no good cuts– you can either pick the best possible, attempt to get creative and MacGyver one together by cutting repeats or measures of rest, or simply choose another song.

Many caution about the nightmares of “overdone” audition songs. There’s something to be said for this, for sure. I won’t bother listing them all here (the lists are changing daily anyway and are just a google search away), but I will generally advise against songs from any show currently on broadway.  At the end of the day, your performance of the song is what is most important. You are certainly allowed to choose an “overdone” song– but I’d generally caution against it unless you’re certain you can knock it out of the park.

When Songs From the Show are Permitted

If you obtain express permission from the director to perform a song from the show, consider doing so! This can be an excellent chance to flex your understanding of the character and show. However, if you don’t have a strong understanding of the character and show… maybe choose songs elsewhere. Nothing can crush the production team’s vision of an actor as a given character quite like seeing the actor act and sing the character weakly. Likewise, though, embodying the character well in your audition can turn odds very much in your favor. Returning to Part One can help you ensure you’ve got the character down pat.

Careful consideration of your song is still necessary, especially if your target characters sings multiple songs. It can help to consider what you think the callback song for the character may be. For instance, you can bet the callback song for Jo March will almost certainly be “Astonishing”. In my audition for Jo, I sang “The Fire Within Me” from the show. The song has a similar range and intensity, and provides as much acting opportunity as “Astonishing”. I figured if I got a callback, they would see me nail two songs of the character’s, and I would avoid singing an overdone song in my audition as well. This worked well for me, and I got the part! Use your best judgement of the circumstances in choosing.

Part Three: Prepping and Rehearsing

This is where your real work begins.

Before you do anything else, make sure you have the details of the audition itself figured out. Be sure you know exactly when are where your audition is, and how you’ll get there. Consider things like rushing to the location from work or school, and how this will effect your audition day. Check if there will be a dance component or any cold reading, or if you should bring a monologue. You should have identified a cut in the previous part, so you should know the singing requirement of the audition. Check if this audition will require a backing track, or if there will be an accompanist there. It also helps to identify, if possible, who all will be in the room. This applies to the production staff, but also to any other auditors. It’s especially common in school theatre for auditions to occur in front of peers. By having all of these details figured out, you can avoid stressing the day of.

It’s time to really do your homework.

  • Learn your song so well and so thoroughly you can’t possibly screw it up. This includes the words just as much as the melody. Rehearse it as you will perform it as much as possible. (ie, rehearse it with a backing track, pianist, or a capella, depending on how you’re going to perform it in the room.) Listening to the song and even singing along with a recording is a good way to get the ball rolling.
    • That said, it’s usually beneficial to stop doing this as you get closer to the audition. You will often pick up subconscious habits from the recording you’ve been listening to. Ensure you are making your own choices and sounding like yourself by avoiding listening to the song right before the audition– or at least, avoiding the most famous recording of it. You could try seeking out many different recordings by various singers to listen to, rather than only, say, Krysta Rodriguez singing “Pulled” or Sutton Foster singing “Gimme Gimme”.
    • In terms of making the song your own, playing with interpretation is a good way to separate your performance from others. Work out your personal take on dynamics, rhythms, and riffs (where appropriate and without changing the entire song!). Listening to other performances can be helpful for finding inspiration, especially if you’re unsure where to start or not very confident in your musical interpretation abilities.
    • Remember that acting the song is as important as singing the song! Seek important beats in the song as you would with a monologue or sides.
  • Find sheet music for your song. Again, scribd.com is a lifesaver in this endeavor! You can also purchase music from a site like musicnotes.com, attempt to find a free PDF elsewhere online. Make sure the music is in the correct key, that it is the version of the song you want, and that the music itself is clearly legible. Also make sure it is a piano-vocal score, and not, say, sheet music for a piano cover of your song, or a guitar lead sheet, or music for three instruments plus voice.
  • Prep the song in your book. Print your music double-sided and 3-hole punch it. If you cannot print double-sided, print single-sided sheets and tape them securely back-to-back to “create” your own double-sided pages. Place your music into a plain black binder. Clearly mark your starting and stopping points and any changes you wish to make (ex: removing a repeat, etc) in your music.
    • Even if you found your sheet music in an anthology book, photocopy it and place it into a binder anyway. The pages are easier to turn and you don’t have to worry about floppy covers being a pain for your accompanist. And never bring loose leaf pages! Think about making everything as easy for the accompanist as possible. You want to stand out as a fantastic auditor, not as the auditor who brought a billion impossible-to-read pages of music in the wrong key.
    • Avoid shiny page protectors– they can cause glare from the lights, making the music hard to read.
    • It’s a good habit to always include 2-3 other songs in your book that you would be ready to perform at a moment’s notice. Imagine slating and being told “I’ve heard that song ten times today, give me something else!” You’d better be ready to sing something else! Ideally these other songs would be relevant. If you’re going to an audition for a golden age show, for example, bring some other golden age music. However, there is room for variation in these extra choices. Make sure these are prepped and marked accordingly as well.
  • Review the script again, if possible. If you’re doing cold reads from the script at the audition, a chance to get the words in your mind ahead of time (even from a quick glance or two) is very helpful.
    • If sides are available ahead of time, be sure to review them thoroughly! Print them out for yourself in the event they’re not available at the audition. All the rules for preparing the song apply here– know it forwards and backwards and make it your own.
  • Work on any dialects/accents as the script requires.
  • If you are nervous about social interactions, it helps to rehearse those ahead of time. Check the next part for more information on what to expect.
  • Update and print your acting resume and headshots if needed (do it anyway– just keep copies in your binder, it’s always good to be prepared). Several copies can never hurt!

You’ll know when you are prepared when you are fully comfortable with the song and feel confident you won’t lose out on this audition due to silly mistakes like forgotten words or off-key singing.

In the days leading up to the audition, it’s dire you take care of yourself!

  • Be sure to get enough sleep! Fatigue audibly affects your voice.
  • Drink plenty of water. This will keep your throat suitably moistened, and help stave off illness.
  • Pay attention to any vocal pain or fatigue, and be prepared to counteract symptoms of illness if necessary. If you start feeling sick or strained, go heavy on the water and vitamin C, and go easy on the rehearsing! Don’t make strain worse with over-preparation!
  • Keep the voice and body warmed up as much as possible. You can’t cram warming up! You’ll hear and feel a different between warming up for a week beforehand versus warming up for a a day or (god forbid!) an hour beforehand.

Part Four: The Audition

It’s the day of the audition! Now let’s get warmed up and make sure you’ve checked everything off your checklist:

  • Remember to bring everything you need: your book, a pencil/pen (preferably a few, you never know), water, snacks/phone charger if you expect to be there a long time, separate clothes to dance in if necessary, and your resume/audition form/anything else you’ve been asked to have.
  • I like to make warming up an all-day ordeal.
    • Full-body stretch. I usually do this once in the morning and once just before the audition. Even if you don’t have to dance, your entire body is engaged when you sing and act– stretching warms up all the muscles you need to perform your best.
    • Start vocal warm-ups slowly. I always begin with gentle humming in the middle of my range, preferably first thing in the morning.
    • Warm up through the day. Hum right when you wake up, sing a little in the car on the way to work, sing a little on your lunch break, and then get into the more strenuous warming up in the hours before the audition.
    • Know when you’re warmed up, already. If you just keep working, eventually you’ll hit the point where you’re past being warmed up and entering “overworked” territory. Keep it moderate and take plenty of breaks through the day.
    • Save it. Furthermore, if your song has a lot of really high or low notes in the extremes of your range, avoid of rehearsing them too much. Though you’ll likely be nervous for them, sometimes you just won’t have it in you to hit those notes more than a few times a day. Rehearse them in the days prior and only hit them once or twice on the day of to ensure you’ve got them. Then back off!

Be sure to be at the audition location for your audition time. Preferably, be early! If you’re unfamiliar with the location, this goes double– you never know when a confusing parking or GPS situation may throw you off.

While waiting to audition, always be on your best behavior. For one thing, if you’re loud in the waiting room, you can disrupt other auditions. Further, there is often an attendant watching over those waiting to audition. This person is often a friend of the production team, and won’t hesitate to inform the director if you’ve got a bad attitude.

Once you’re in the room:

  • Be ready to slate. “Hi, my name is, and I will be singing this song by this person/from this show.”
  • Get the accompanist on the same page, figuratively and literally. Hand them your book, open to the song you are singing. Mention any changes you’ve written in, or anything funky in the cut, like a long fermata or a tempo change. Generally, if you’re afraid they might not do something “your way”, it doesn’t hurt to mention it.
    • Your accompanist may ask for a tempo for your song, so be prepared to count it out or sing a few bars “off the record” to give them an idea. Never clap or snap the tempo, it’s considered very rude!
  • Don’t forget to act the song while you sing!
  • Follow any direction the director gives you. I’ve been told I’ve gotten parts in past almost purely because of how well I took the direction from the production team in the audition. If the director asks to hear or see anything in any way, regardless of how odd or outlandish you think it may be, absolutely do it!
  • You may be asked some questions, depending on the show. Here are some common examples:
    • Any weird talents or special skills?
    • Are you comfortable with stage kissing/sex/violence? Are you comfortable kissing someone of the same gender?
    • Can you walk in heels? (For men!)
    • Do you play any musical instruments?
    • Are you comfortable flying?

Remember to thank the audition team and especially your accompanist afterward. Sending a “thanks for seeing me” message or email to the team or director later is also a good habit to get into!

Part Five: Aftermath

What happens next will vary wildly. You might be told then and there you’re getting a callback, or callbacks may not be scheduled. You might be done at this point.

Preparing for Callbacks

If callbacks are scheduled, it’s important to continue to practice a little daily. Keep your voice warm. Callbacks may be as soon as the next day or a week or more away. Be prepared!

  • Review any provided material thoroughly. Know it just as well, if not better, than your audition material. This is your final chance to prove you are right for the character: now is the time to nail down your character interpretation and sell it! Reviewing the script or source material now can be a good way to refresh.
  • Sometimes directors will give you a callback date before providing the materials you are to review. Instead of waiting the day or two (or more) it takes for them to send out those materials, it is beneficial to review the show’s book and music and familiarize yourself with any of the possibilities. This way you waste no time and can get a leg up on those less educated on the show.
  • When called back for multiple roles, many are inclined to only focus their energy on the one they want more. While prioritizing is a good habit, phoning in the other character’s callback can make you seem lazy, unprepared, and ungrateful for the opportunity. Never do less than your best!

It’s out of my Hands. Now What?

If this is the end of the road— either you’ve not received a callback or there will not be any, or you’ve finished your callback— now the waiting begins.

  • Remember, even if you didn’t receive a callback, that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be cast, or that you’re not in the running for any parts.
  • Don’t get bogged down with the Would I/Could I/Should I questions. If you’ve prepared as well as you could for this audition/callback, you’ve done all you can!
  • Waiting for the cast list is grueling. Keep yourself busy!
    • Scheduling activities in the days after auditions/callbacks before waiting begins is a good way to keep yourself active.
    • It’s easy to get bogged down in the melancholy of waiting. Friends are useful for redirecting your thoughts and energy elsewhere!

The Cast List

Once the roles are offered, 

  • Remember casting is never a personal slight, and all roles afford opportunity for growth, connections, and fun.
  • Remember that how you handle casting tells directors a lot about your work ethic (especially if you don’t receive the part you wanted). If you create a name for yourself as someone who quits shows every time you land ensemble, you may soon find yourself without the opportunity. 
  • Young actors especially: Never discuss casting choices in a negative light on social media. Posts have a habit of getting back to the person they’re about, or getting back to your director. Directors don’t cast snobs, and many will happily rescind a part from someone who smears their choices online.
  • Remember to follow any rules regarding the discussion of casting. You may be asked not to announce your role until all roles have been accepted, or asked to wait for legal reasons not to divulge details of the show until a certain date. Be sure to follow any guidelines the director and team lay out!
  • It’s easy to lose steam at this point, especially if rehearsals don’t follow for some time. Take time to actively relax and recoup, so you don’t lose steam later. Once the process begins, be ready to hit the ground running!

Finally, never assume the outcome of one audition will effect the outcome of the rest. Even if you’ve gotten the lead you wanted this time, you will have to work just as hard for all the rest. Feel free to review this post when your next audition process begins.

Final Thoughts

Congratulations! You’ve auditioned! Maybe you weren’t cast, maybe you were. Maybe you got the role of your dreams. Maybe you didn’t even make it to callbacks. The important thing is that you put yourself out there!

Whether you reached your goals or not, auditioning is a valuable learning opportunity. Post-auditions, take some time to reflect on what went well and what didn’t. Acting means you’re accepting the reality of a cycle of pre-audition jitters and post-audition panic indefinitely. Learn to enjoy it and learn to learn from it– you owe yourself that much!