Theater Info for Maryland

Acting Is About More Than Just Acting

By • Mar 21st, 2012 • Category: An Actor's Advice

Assuming you are not a member of an actor’s labor union, there are many things you could and should be doing to help a production run more smoothly.

There are about a thousand little things involved in most shows, and even when cast and crew are 100% committed to doing a good job, the chance for things getting neglected, or of there being too much for any one person to do, are high. So as you rehearse and get closer to opening night, consider what you can do to make someone’s job easier.

Your first duty of course is always to your character and your lines. I’d never say otherwise. But once you are secure in your own duties, don’t exist in a vacuum. Keep other actors and the crew in mind as the production goes on.

Are you not on stage for 15 minutes?  Ask the stage manager if you can help move a set piece backstage. See if a cast member of your own gender needs help with a quick costume change. Stand in for an unavailable cast mate to run lines of a scene you are not in. Hold a curtain for someone as they enter the scene. For even the most basic of plays, a list like this could go on for quite a while.

Taking such action isn’t about being a superhero. And if you end up in the way more than you are helpful, you’re doing something wrong. You are also doing something wrong if by offering extra help you are neglecting the time you need to put in your best performance. Yet keeping in mind that everyone in the show has a job, and being willing to help them when possible accomplishes two things:

  1. It serves as a reminder that it is not all about you. It can be easy to fall into that misconception, and forget that the paying audience is viewing an entire production, not just your own performance.
  2. Having someone else’s back makes it all the more likely that they will have yours, when you most need someone’s help. And who doesn’t appreciate some help here and there? (If you don’t, check your ego; you probably are over-estimating your talent.)

Production represents a community. A group effort. And unless you are bound by something such as a Union contract to not assist someone else with their job, chances are both you, and the show as a whole will end up a whole lot better if you offer up some of your time and energy to extend your hand to others in the show with you.

This article can be linked to as: