We had a fabulous #ShowbizChat a couple of weeks ago that was all about networking. If you missed it, check out the transcript, and try to make plans to join us for the next one on January 6th at 1 PM EST.
There was a whole lotta incredible networking wisdom being thrown around in #ShowbizChat, but there’s one specific piece of advice about networking that I’ve really been wanting to share with you all lately because I think it’s crucial and it took me a long time to learn it.
Networking doesn’t have to be something that feels uncomfortable or forced because “that’s how everyone else is doing it.” Do it in a way that suits your style and personality.
Wow, that seems simple, huh? But it took me a shockingly long time to figure out that if late-night parties or targeted networking events weren’t my thing, there were a lot of other ways to network that I’m much more comfortable with and good at.
Sure, I still hit the occasional party or opening night gala or fundraising event (two in the past month actually, and I’ve gotten a lot more successful at them lately!), but there are so many more ways to authentically engage with people that actually leave me excited about the prospect of meeting people.
Some other options for theatre networking are:
Find your niche group — For me, it’s The League of Professional Theatre Women. Feminists who love theatre and love advancing the cause of strong women in theatre? Sign me up! I would get one thousand times more excited to go to a LPTW play reading or committee meeting than a networking party, and I am meeting incredible like-minded people all the same! Read more…
Please welcome Amy Lee Pearsall to the blog today! Amy Lee is an active and valuable member of the indie theater community here in NYC, most recently appearing in Wide Eyed Productions’ Dead Special Crabs. She’s here today talking about the Indie Theater Hall of Fame and what it means to have been inducted last year.
Earlier this week, Rochelle and Martin Denton of New York Theater Experience (NYTE) launched the online Indie Theater Hall of Fame after a decade of honoring performers, designers, directors, producers, and organizations for their contributions to the NYC independent theatre community. The inductees for 2014 were announced today, and social media within the local indie theatre sphere has been aflutter since this morning with the news.
As an inductee in 2013, I have to tell you – being recognized for my work by my community is a lovely thing. It’s a balm on days when I’m sitting at my desk job, eating cheese and crackers while trying to make sense of a spreadsheet, updating the social media for my theatre company, following up on digital footage for my reel that is way past overdue, and scheduling yet another seminar with a casting director whose eyes will almost certainly cloud over until I tell them I was inducted into the Indie Theatre Hall of Fame in 2013. And it’s nice to have good news to send home to family and friends – a missive of sorts to the effect that they shouldn’t give up all hope of ever seeing me on Law and Order: SVU. But inevitably, I get the question: “What’s independent theatre, anyway?” Read more…
Earlier this month, I had come back from an almost two-week adventure in Israel. The reason for going to Israel was I was given the opportunity to participant in a Director’s Lab out there. Between going to the other side of the world to experience how they do theatre and with everything going on other there as of lately, the whole experience was truly enlightening.
I feel like the first thing to mention is the elephant in the room: Israel is a country that while it’s been an official country for 66 years, for thousands of years there’s been war on and over the ownership of the land. Adding to this, part of Israeli law requires men to be in the military for 3 years, and women for 2 years. These aspects have a huge effect on the theatre going on over there. I personally found the theatre world to be very polarizing with two main styles: either completely about war, violence, or other social issues; or complete escapism: fantasy, fairy tales, and magical elements. I found this contrast to be really fascinating, since it really shows not only how individual artists react and relate to the war, but exposing true feelings on the situation regardless. Either that they need to expose what’s wrong, or that they simply need an escape from it being everywhere. Read more…
It occurred to me while chatting with a friend of a friend at a birthday party this weekend, that as actors, we don’t give ourselves nearly enough credit. He was telling me that he’d transitioned away from acting and into a technology events planning job, and about how his skills that he learned as an actor were serving him greatly in this new position.
There’s the obvious aspect of “we’re charismatic people who are in touch with ourselves as human beings and are good at creating things and teamwork and intimidating situations” part of our actor skill set, of course. But have you ever stopped to think about all of the other tangentially related jobs we have to do as actors, as well? Not only are we actors, but we also learn to be stylists, publicists, managers, researchers, graphic designers, and more.
We learn how to style an outfit from seemingly endless options to best showcase our body type, our actor “type,” and the character we’re auditioning for, all at once. Oh, and we want to strike just the right balance between looking like we’re too polished to be great and accessible artists, and looking like we can’t afford to dress in a professional manner. All in one outfit. That will change on any given day, depending on what the project we’re auditioning for requires. Oh, and don’t forget corresponding hair and makeup choices. We also learn how to navigate New York City, with all of her glorious public transit and unpredictable weather, and still arrive at auditions looking perfectly put together.
Today we have a very exciting guest post from Victoria Negri, a New York and Connecticut based actor and filmmaker, who just recently wrapped principal photography on her first feature, GOLD STAR. I reached out to her to ask about her casting process, because I was thoroughly intrigued to hear how she landed such a great cast.
On Friday October 3rd I wrapped production on my directorial feature debut, Gold Star, which I also wrote, starred in and produced alongside a team of all women producers (Katie Maguire, Effie Fradelos and Ellyn Vander Wyden). Casting for this film was a challenge. I’m incredibly lucky to have worked with a talented team of actors. I’m still pinching myself with how lucky I am. Oscar nominated actor Robert Vaughn played my elderly father, Carmine, and Orange is the New Black’s Catherine Curtin played my mother, Deanne, and Anna Garduno as my half sister Maria. We also discovered some new, younger talent in Jacob Heimer as Chris, especially.
Casting for Gold Star began in early spring. We reached out to casting director Judy Bowman (who I’ve auditioned for and who was recommended over and over again) to bring in actors and make offers. I’ve never worked with a casting director to this extent before, and it was an eye opening experience and well worth it. The process began with Judy reading the script, obviously, and we bounced ideas back and forth about what kind of actors I was looking for, their “type,” everything from age range to facial hair. We knew we wanted to get some name talent on board, if possible, and I hoped the material was strong and interesting enough to draw some curiosity from people. This process was all about being smart, and say, not going after Robert De Niro to play the role of my father.
We had a list of about 20-30 actors for the role of Carmine and Deanne, a few we’d have to make flat offers to and others we could audition. I narrowed down each list to a top five along with Judy and my producers’ input, and we went down the list and made offers. Robert Vaughn immediately caught my eye. I remembered watching him in “The Magnificent Seven” with my father when I was a kid. What was so fascinating and refreshing about working with Judy was that she thought outside of the box for every role. Sometimes, I didn’t immediately understand her suggestions, not only because they weren’t the types I was necessarily looking for in look, but because Gold Star is such an incredibly personal film. Most of the roles are based on real people, especially my parents.
We made Robert Vaughn and offer and ultimately auditioned many actresses to play Deanne, my half sister Maria in the film, and the romantic lead, Chris, who we were seeing non-SAG actors for. This was very strategic on our part. We figured we could get great talent in the role of Chris for non-SAG actors because that was the youngest part in the film, and we did.
Recently, I attended a screening to see if I qualified for paid work doing surveys and group tests. A lot went into these screenings. There were several written tests, computer tests, and a separate test that involved shapes and sounds. It ended with a doctor taking my blood pressure and measurements. When all was said it done (two hours later), I learned that I did not qualify for any of their studies.
I was disappointed, to say the least. I had just wasted my afternoon taking tests only to learn I wasn’t “good enough” for them. As I walked back to the bus, I thought of all the reasons why I probably didn’t fit their qualifications.
And then it hit me: I had no idea what they were looking for.
Here’s what I did know: My diet is great. My workouts are consistent. My self-esteem has never been higher. I share this because all of these facts were related to the tests I took. For all I knew, I was “too good” for their study!
“Tony, I’m so glad you told me all about your day. But what does this have to do with my acting career?”
Is acting just a job?
A couple of years ago, I would have scoffed at the idea that working in theatre was anything less than a lifestyle, pretty much all-consuming, minus a few spare hours here and there for puppy cuddles, survival jobs, and crafting.
And there are some special sacrifices that an acting career asks of us — a flexible schedule, constant hair that matches our very expensive headshots, occasionally working on holidays, nighttime networking events, generally living in one of a couple of expensive cities…the list goes on.
But I recently got back from a killer trip to Peru that really put things in perspective for me.
I’m not generally a “giddy” person, but I found myself so thrilled to be abroad for the first time in five years that we raced around the country for ten days soaking up as much as we could while I grinned from ear-to-ear the whole damn time. Seeing new places in new countries makes me so very happy. And that’s something that I had given up in recent years, always spending extra money on my career and afraid to leave the country (because you know that’s when you’re going to get a call for that big audition!).
But forget that.
One year ago on October 10, 2013, the United Kingdom’s Stage Management Association began spreading the word to all the theatres across the country to show support and thanks to their Stage Managers. Some companies incorporated slips into their programs highlighting their stage management teams. Others invited their stage managers to partake in the curtain call. Cast members chose to follow their stage manager during the preshow prep to get an idea of what they did. The West End musical “Once” even serenaded their team. At the same time, others outside the UK picked up the celebration from Australia to here in the United States. Here’s a look back to how this day was celebrated last year: http://stagemanagementday.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/standby-please/
And here’s a link to another recently posted article from the U.K.: http://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2014/10/stage-managers-honoured-part-international-celebrations/?utm_content=buffer8b53e&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer
So, for the one year anniversary of this special day, take a moment to continue to spread the word – thank your stage manager, assistant stage manager, production assistant, crew person, wardrobe, technician for their support, care, and attentiveness to your production. Treats and hugs and office supply gifts accepted!