A castmate and I were musing about our respective moves to Chicago and how our 21 year old selves would view our current lives. While I sort of wrote this blog post to my 21 year old self, I also know that I couldn’t have learned these things by reading a list. I really had to learn these lessons authentically. Still they are things I have to reiterate to myself and it’s nice to see them all lined up and spell- checked and in numerical order with a movie clip at the end. (Also note to 21 year old self, you are currently working on a project you LOVE.)
Sidebar: I hope my 41-year-old self writes something to my current self like, “Use that windfall of 14 million dollars to buy a villa NOT a yacht. THAT was a hard-learned lesson, giggle giggle. Care for a bellini? Let me just summon my faithful houseman Agador Spartacus.”
11 Things about Doing Theatre in Chicago
1. Confidence means more when you aren’t onstage. Talent, training, technique and rehearsal are the keys to a good performance or audition. Confidence is deeper. You have to know…you have to KNOW that the path you are on is your path and the one that is right for you. Comparison to other actors is death. It kills your spirit. It kills your creativity. And it kills your spark. Judy is right, you have to “be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”
2. Have priorities. Change them if you need to. And make sure they are actually yours, not someone else’s. You can be a professional actor and not necessarily want to star in a tv series. It’s your career. If you want to do Cher covers while rollerskating, then the world will be a better place for it. I am so serious. The world needs HAPPY rollerskating Cher coverers not UNHAPPY commercial actors who wish they were rollerskating and covering “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.” In the same vein, if that sounds like it sucks? Dude. Don’t do it then. Only an performer thinks, “Ugh that project sounds horrible. I’ll do it.” Why? WHY?
3. As in the beginning…so in the middle…so in the end. If that company sucked to audition for….if they were running an hour behind….if they were rude or dismissive…I assure you the rehearsal process will be the same way. On the other hand, if the audition process was smooth, the people friendly, and the paperwork informative, that’s a huge high sign that they have it together.
4. Make sure you love every single audition piece you use. If you are bored by something, the people behind the table will be too.
5. If you are offered a project and you have an inexplicable sinking feeling or panic….that’s your intuition telling you to say no. (Not to be confused with feelings of healthy fear that indicate you are challenging yourself.)
6. It’s okay to say no. If you say no upfront to a project in a polite way, you won’t burn a bridge ( If you bail halfway through with a shady excuse, that’s a different story). The project that feels “not right” for you might be a dream job for someone else who will love it. If you know you can’t throw yourself into the project wholly, what’s the point?
7. It’s totally okay to take a break for as long as you want to.
8. When you take a break, it can take a long time to get back into the swing of things.
7. If a role scares you, it’s probably the right role and you will benefit from playing it.
8. If you have to force something from the get go, it’s not worth it. (Not to be confused with healthy competition)
9. You have to love doing this for your own sanity. I call it the Nachos Philosophy. Sure every once in a while, I get tired of nachos. Or am occasionally disappointed with a plate of nachos (what is with the cheese and pickled jalapenos only bullshit?). Might you occasionally resent this inexplicable need for nachos and that it occasionally causes you to sacrifice other amazing foods in your quest for more nachos? Of course. But can I imagine my life without nachos? No I cannot, Madame. You’ve got to love it like nachos.
10. You can stop loving it and start loving it again.