Lesson: “Let’s Not Bicker and Argue About Who
involved with a play (whether you’re in the cast, the crew,
or both) can be a joyous experience, or it can be a nightmare.
I’ve been in enough plays to know that, in every play, there
is going to be some kind of drama…and I’m not talking
about the stuff happening on the stage. Sometimes it’s small…sometimes
BIG. It all depends on the cast.
when you spend such a large amount of time with people, even if
you’re close friends with them, there will be some grated
nerves. This is unavoidable because shows, while being loads of
fun, are a lot of hard work. And, this working tension spreads
through a small cast like wildfire. But, remember; only you can
prevent tension fires. Get past it. Get through it. It’s
over. It’s done. Don’t sweat the little things.
me give you an example of some needless tension that was added
to a cast. We were already in the run of a show (I won’t
tell you which), and the show was running pretty well. Tech was
running smoothly, and the audiences were enjoying it. Well, following
a vocal warm up before a performance, the musical director wanted
to fix a harmony in one of the songs. One or two people were moved
to a different note for better blend. It sounded better. Everything
was right with the world, right?…WRONG! Soon after the session,
while we were going to our respective changing areas for costuming
and makeup, I saw one of the cast members crying. When asked what
was wrong, she said that she had finally gotten a note that she
liked to sing, and now they’ve moved her off of it.
anyone out there knows why someone (a college student, by the way)
would cry over something so petty, please tell me. If I’m
not mistaken, the job of any cast member, no matter how big or
small the part, is to make the show the best it can possibly be.
And, if that involves moving one note, then for the sake of all
that is good and pure, MOVE THE STINKIN’ NOTE! If a line
gets cut, so be it. If it’s your only line, be the best mute
chorus member there is. Whatever makes the show better, let it
be done. Listen to the authoritative figures, and do what they
that same line, don’t let there be a struggle for power.
The director has the final word on what happens (or doesn’t)…period.
If you feel like what you’re doing is stupid (which sometimes
happens), explain to the director that you feel a little awkward
doing it. [Notice that I didn’t say to tell the director
that it was stupid or that you felt stupid doing it. You’ve
got to stay on the director’s good side, else you might not
get nearly as good part (if you are cast at all) in the next bundle
back-talk the director (or any other authoritative figure, for
that matter). The crew members are your best friends. They have
the power to “accidentally” drop things on you, leave
you in the dark, not bring a particular set piece out, etc. So,
be nice to the crew.
that note, be nice to everyone, no matter how much you don’t
like them. You don’t have to like them. You don’t have
to like anyone in a show. Most shows are voluntary, anyway. You
don’t have to be there if you don’t want. There is
no sense in you putting unneeded stress on yourself or the rest
of the cast and crew if you don’t want to be in a show. You
can say, “No,” when a part is offered.
you’re already deep in the rehearsals of a show and there’s
no turning back, you’ve got to get through it. Be the peacekeeper.
When tension comes your way, do all you can to ignore its existence
and get on with the show. Shows are temporary. “This too
shall pass.” If you don’t have an enjoyable experience
doing a show or you’re not particularly fond of the cast
members, find another theatre with people you do like.
have fun in every show that I do. I’ve played everything
from third baseball player on the right to the title character,
and I have a blast every time. Be happy with the part you’ve
been given. I’m just happy that they give me the opportunity
to be on stage at all.
I said earlier, there was unavoidable tension in every one of the
shows, but they were still fun. Tension and bad moods surge through
a cast, but happiness and ease have to slowly overcome those obstacles.
I like to help it along by making the most of the situation I’m
given. That feeling of goodness will spread to the other cast members
if they’ll overlook all of the stressful stuff.
you’re going to come in contact with those who have egos
so big, you wonder at how they were able to fit it into the theatre.
These people put tension in the theatre for kicks. What do you
do in these situations? Put up a tension blocker; have a good attitude
and sense of well being that you are doing your job.
reminds me…DO YOUR JOB. When I said that theatre was hard
work, I didn’t mean for everybody else but you. You’ve
got to give all of the effort you’ve got. Put in the time.
Learn your lines, songs, and dances as quickly as possible. Work
your tail off early on so that when opening night is close at hand,
you’ve got no worries about your performance. You’ve
known your stuff for a while, and now you get to play with it,
trying different things, a few subtleties here and there that might
make your performance better. The director will tell you if he/she
doesn’t like it. What it all boils down to is the more you
work, the better off you’ll be.
to the people with mountainous egos…DON’T BE ONE OF
THEM. Unless it’s a one-man show, productions are a collective
effort. It’s the collective effort that makes the performance
good or bad. If there is one fantastic actor in a show, and everyone
else is dreadful, the audience is going to pick up on it. In other
words, one person does not make the show. So, deflate your ego
a bit and be a team player. If there is tension between you and
the other actors, the audience will be able to pick up on that
happy with the part you’re given. If you don’t like
your part (i.e. you think it’s too small to suite your enormous
talent, you wanted to play one of the other parts, etc.) deflate
your ego a bit and “play the stew” out of what you’re
given. If you’re faithful with what you’re given, much
will be added unto you. In other words, stop complaining and have
fun with what you do, and you might get something better down the
closing, remember that this is the entertainment industry, and
that we’re here to entertain. This is not a talent show.
There is no first, second, and third place. Just do the job and
have fun. If you’re not having fun, choose a different hobby/career;
this one isn’t for you.
By the way, in case you didn’t catch it, the title
is a reference to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which is a
movie of continuous silliness. You can find it in most movie
rental places. And, it’s one of those movies that’s
more fun to quote than it is to watch, but you’ve got to
watch it to quote it. So, go watch it.