I recently began rehearsals for a community theatre production of Almost, Maine and it made me remember some very important “skills” that can get you ahead in the acting world. It’s basic advice, but I am always surprised by the number of actors who seem to find these out the hard way, after it’s too late. If you haven’t already, I recommend putting these tips into practice immediately, they can only help you. Here’s what I’ve learned:
Be nice to everyone. Fellow actors, techies, stage moms, ushers, box office staff, absolutely every single person you meet. This is the most important advice I can give you, I can’t stress it enough. Theatre is an impossibly small world. People you meet now will cross your path 20 years from now. They will probably be your director. Or your boss. If you were mean or difficult, a bad reputation could get you blacklisted no matter how talented you are.
Be reliable. Have your lines memorized before everyone else. Write your notes down and memorize them. Even if you aren’t the world’s best actor and you don’t exactly fit the part, directors will still consider you because you make their lives easier and less stressful. Even better, they’ll recommend you to other directors!
Be early. On time is late. Be respectful of your fellow actors and don’t make them wait for you.
Bring a pencil to every rehearsal. Always have it with you on the stage. Not a pen, not a sharpie, a real, honest-to-goodness pencil with a working eraser. Bring an extra two (in case one breaks or someone else forgets theirs)! If you want to really be impressive, throw in a sharpener. You’ll be guaranteed to save the day.
Program phone numbers into your cell phone. Do it as soon as you receive the contact list. You have no idea when you are going to get stranded on the highway, kept late at a meeting, have to find a lost dog, etc. Having the Director’s and Stage Manager’s phone numbers handy (at minimum) will save everyone time and hassle if you will be late or can’t make it to rehearsal.
Turn off your phone. Do it before you walk into the rehearsal space and do not look at it again until rehearsal is over and you have left the building. You have a job to do and your focus should be on acting. If you have down time, you should be quietly working on memorizing your lines or learning from your fellow actors.
Accept notes gracefully. Unfortunately, you are not always going to be the best thing since sliced bread. When you get a “bad” note, acknowledge the request and put it into action next time. No need to make excuses or get defensive, just take it and move on. If you have a serious problem with it, talk to the director privately after rehearsal or send them an email.
This basic advice will have an incredible impact on the people you work with and earn you a sparkling reputation. Do you have any other tips to share?