10 Pieces of Advice for Majors

Hello folks! I just want to start out by saying THANK YOU  to all of my new followers! One, in particular, has given me the idea to create a new blog that offers advice for those who dream of the big time!

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So, in honor of my creation of my new blog, I have decided to create a post for incoming theatre majors!

Without further ado, I present:

10 PIECES OF ADVICE FOR INCOMING THEATRE MAJORS
 
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1. DROP THE DIVA ACT. This is the single most important piece of advice I can give. I understand that at your small school you were the best actor/singer/dancer they had ever seen. Everyone that saw you perform said you were going to be famous one day, and you were hot stuff. Well guess what.. You’re entering a whole different territory now. Collegiate theatre is a different ballpark. The summer between graduation and college is the time when the first batch of wannabe theatre majors are weeded out. I know this sounds harsh, but as much as I want this industry to be for everyone, IT’S NOT. Sure, maybe you are hot stuff and one day you will be able to perform on a Broadway stage, but as of right now, everyone you are about to study with is just as equally talented as you. Everyone is just as passionate, if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be spending thousands of dollars to study a career that’s only guarantee is that you will be told NO many times. Believe it or not, but professionals in this industry do not want to work with divas. People that think they are just the greatest thing that ever graced a stage are not fun to work with. And no one, I repeat, NO ONE will want to work with that. Also, word gets around and this instant you become known as “the diva” well you have just royally screwed yourself. I have personally talked to casting directors from some of the top acting apprenticeships in the country, and they have all said that it doesn’t matter how awesome someone was in the audition room, if they find out that you got rude with the lady working the sign-in table, it becomes an immediate N.O. So, cool your jets, your time to shine will come, for now, enjoy yourself. We are all doing this because we love it.
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2. NO ONE OWES YOU ANYTHING. Okay, sorry for all the super harsh negativity, but it’s true. Plus this is the last jerkish one. So for this piece of advice, I actually received it when i attended COLLEGE DAYS at the HUMANA Festival in Louisville, KY. I attended many workshops that allowed professionals to give us advice for what they expect as we enter the professional industry.  For many of us, we learned in high school that the older you got, the better the role you received or the more responsibility you received. Guess what? It doesn’t work like that after high school. It doesn’t matter how old you are (unless they’re casting Rosie for Mamma Mia), how much you have done for the company you are working with, no one owes you anything. Our generation has somehow developed this weird sense of obligation from others and it is something that you quickly need to get out of your head. Some people are not going to like you. End of story. You have to understand that no one is looking at you like “oh damn, I forgot to cast them as a lead because I owe them.” Once you understand that you are not owed anything, you will be just fine.
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3. PEOPLE WANT TO HELP YOU. Going off of #2, people in our industry really do want to help you succeed. No one is looking to be a bitter asshole that ruins everyone. If you prove that you deserve someone’s time and help, THEY WILL GIVE IT TO YOU. Casting directors WANT TO CAST YOU. They actually need you to be the solution to their problem. It makes their day much shorter when you solve a problem for them. Obviously, there is a fine like between this and number 2, and you have to find the line of receiving people’s help and feeling an obligation for them to help you. Don’t worry, it takes time but the sooner you are aware that line is there, the sooner you are able to start learning how to walk it.
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4. BE INVOLVED. Alright guys, if you take anything away from this post, PLEASE let it be this. Being involved your first year is such a BLESSING. Going in to my first semester here, I was unsure what the future held, but I dove head first into being involved in the department. Sure there are so many other things happening on campus that you wanna do, and you have to do well in classes, and all but being involved opens so many doors for you. Don’t know how to get involved? Well for OSU, we have an annual Theatre Orientation that gives new students insight into everything the department offers. See if you department offers something similar, if not, talk to your adviser. I GUARANTEE they can help you out. Audition for a show. Get work-study? See if the department offers any jobs for work-study kids. Getting involved will be the first step to help with the next few pieces of advice I have.
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5. GET YOUR NAME OUT. One small piece of advice I received from my acting coach was this: always use your first and last name when introducing yourself. Whether working in the box office and answering phones, or meeting with people. Always say “hello, my name is _____ _____.” This is something that we have lost track of doing. It’s a rare occasion for someone to use their first and last name, and surprisingly, it is something that is noticed. People will remember you, and you never know who you will meet. Which, leads me to:
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6. NETWORK. NETWORK. NETWORK. You never know who you are going to meet, and in our business it is ALL about who you know. While I don’t expect you to go to NYC and address strangers with all your information, if you get the opportunity to attend a networking event, GO! It is amazing who you can meet simply through friends. I went to NYC recently, and while there my group held a networking event. While I did go, when I got there I was a little skeptical because no one seemed to be someone who could be a good contact. As I was leaving, however, I ran into a woman who was not even with our group. She couldn’t get a drink at the bar downstairs, so she headed upstairs to get a drink at the bar in our spot and we bumped into each other. I, however, did not know that and proceeded to introduce myself. I then found out she was a producer. She had helped produce on Broadway before and she was impressed at my networking skills at such an early age. While I would love all of us to be able to bump into Broadway producers, it’s not always going to happen. However, if I had simply said excuse me and left, I would not have talked to a producer about who I was and that I plan to take Hercules to Broadway one day (which she loved). So, aren’t that great when it comes to social events? Practice on your colleagues. Meeting the new people in the department is very important, and is great practice for what your life is going to be like. Also, our professors have lived this life. They KNOW people already. They are there to help you into the professional theatre world. Get to know them, and soon doors will be opening like never before.
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7. AUDITION FOR A SHOW. Yes, I understand that not everyone who comes to college wants to act. Neither do I, or did I. But, it helps people from all areas in theatre. AND OUT. Whether you have even a slight interest in being in a production one semester, or you are looking to volunteer as a board op, ASM, or AD auditioning gets your name out there. Believe it or not, many casting directors in college remember everyone they see. There isn’t a lot of competition compared to outside world, so if you give them something to remember along with your name, they will. Also, after you audition for them, once you turn in your resume and show interest in ASMing, they will see how dedicated you are to their show and being involved. That will stick. Yes, auditions can be scary, but they are so helpful! Plus, once you get your first one out of the way, you’ll have a much higher self-confidence. For those who aren’t sure about acting, or who don’t want to be involved in a particular production, AUDITION ANYWAYS! First, you get your name out. Second, and most importantly, college auditions are the only time in your whole life that you have people wanting to educate you and make you better. The people who run auditions for college are willing to give helpful feedback. SO ASK. When you enter an audition room, give your slate and monologue (just like you would in an audition you truly wanted to get cast from), then after that say thank you. Wait a second, and then explain that while you are busy this semester, you auditioned because you would like to make yourself better. Ask them for what worked and what didn’t work. What should you work on? What wasn’t clear? Trust me, it is the best feeling in the world to hear what was going on inside their head.
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8. GO SEE SHOWS. Go see all kinds of shows, whether realism – non-realism, mime, or whatever. If you have time GO SEE SHOWS. First and foremost, seeing shows is a great learning opportunity. I never believed I could learn so much by seeing one show, but for the past three weeks I have seen 20 shows and am absolutely amazed at all the new things I have discovered. About acting, directing, crew, anything. You learn from people’s mistakes and their triumphs. Also, you should love theatre, so why not watch it? If you don’t like going to shows, then you should probably rethink your career path before it’s too late. Don’t think you can afford to see a ton of shows? See what the department policy is on comp tickets. For OSU you get a free comp to every department show. Other places, like regional theatres, sometimes offer discounts to students. USE THAT DISCOUNT. Also, look into volunteering to usher. Ushering is the simplest thing EVER. You interact with other people who love theatre and then get to see a show FOR FREE. (And generally, they’re good seats). Lastly, our industry relies HEAVILY on audience participation. We need people to come see our show, OR WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO CONTINUE. Support is such an important aspect in our business. Support your fellow family members.
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9. LOVE THY STAGE MANAGER. I don’t care if you are the lead in a production, a costume designer, or the director of a show, your stage manager is a blessing. He/She is the most important person in a production. They call the show, the help your bruises, and they keep the entire show from failing apart. We like to refer to them our stage mom. One of every professional persons nightmares is getting on the bad side of their stage manager. The SM is there to help you. To help make you shine, but you need to respect them. If you have a problem with them, address them about it. This one is definitely connected with number 1: DROP THE DIVA ACT. SM’s have a lot more say in things then you sometimes realize, and if you don’t be careful the rude and demanding attitude you had in The Little Mermaid will be remembered the next time you walk into an audition room and they are sitting at the table.
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10. HAVE FUN. Some people take our jobs wayyyyyy too seriously. And while yes, this is a professional work environment, have fun with it. That is one of the reasons we all fell in love with theatre. Because it is fun and freeing. If you don’t get cast in a show, RELAX this is not your only show you will ever have the chance to audition for. Go out with the cast and crew on dinner nights, (just make sure you get to rehearsal on time the next day). While it can be hard to balance business and pleasure, it is doable. I was one of those really serious people my first semester, and guess what! I HATED IT. I never had free time. I now know how to balance and guess what! IT’S FANTASTIC.
Well, I hope that my 10 pieces of advice for incoming theatre majors was helpful!
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