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Now What?

January 16, 2013

I’m at a bit of an impasse.

Unlike most of my fellow bloggers here at the Green Room Blog, I am not a theater professional. As regular readers know, I started taking acting classes in my early 30s and made the leap to community theater and Fringe Festival performance about a year ago. I have had rapid success and have maintained a full schedule — one that is already filling up for this new year.

But I have no idea what to do next.

I do not expect to ever make a living as an actor, though I would welcome the happy surprise of it if it should happen somehow. (While a lot of “late blooming actors” look to the memory of Kathryn Joosten, who started performing at age 42, my own household saint is John Mahoney, who, like me, worked as an editor until, like me, first appearing on stage at 37. So it could happen.) But I am wondering what comes next.

I have a full-time job and provide the sole income for our household. (My wife and I have twin sons, and we homeschool them, with her doing the vast majority of that hard job.) I have managed to fit my years of acting classes, and now year of performing, in around that. It makes me happy, and I do better with each role. But I want to keep moving forward.

One of the stars of my most recent show told me that many here in Washington — and I suspect in other cities as well — engage in “evening professional” acting. That is, they hold full-time jobs and perform, as I do, but have made the leap from community theater to a mix of unpaid and paid roles. This is where I would like to be by my 40th birthday, about two years from now. It’s realistic, but I’m still not sure how to get from here to there.

Always be auditioning, yes — I know that rule. And I know what I need to work on — monologues, making better emotional connections on-stage, having the discipline to work on lines when I’d rather be reading something else or napping. But beyond that, what else can I do? What should I be doing? I welcome the advice of our wise readership.

Peter Sig

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 17, 2013 12:36 pm

    Things that come to mind off the top of my head:
    Keep taking classes!
    Make a list of the theaters you’d like to work at, start attending their auditions, sending headshots and updates periodically, networking with the movers and shakers there.
    Do you have great headshots? If not, get some!
    Are there any local agents you can reach out to for representation?
    Start attending local EPAs for regional theaters within commuting distance from D.C., like ones in MD & VA, too.
    Get a website going!
    Get an acting coach to help with audition prep and career advice.
    Get profiles set up on actor sites like Actors Access and start submitting to stuff on there.
    If you’re interested in film too, check out local university film programs and find peeps to work with through those to get reel material built up.
    Learn how to create audition tapes of yourself to send in for projects filming elsewhere.

    There’s lots and lots of stuff you can start working on! And two years is definitely enough time to accomplish this stuff if you’re focused 🙂

    • The Growing Artist permalink
      January 17, 2013 2:27 pm

      Great list! I shall definitely be working on some of these myself! 🙂

  2. January 22, 2013 9:46 am

    Hi Late Blooming Artist!
    First of all John Mahoney is absolutely a hero of mine too. All I have to do is think about him in the “Moon-Crane” episode when he says he’s an astronaut and asks for Tang and it makes me laugh out loud.

    But what I really want to say is first of all, don’t let us theatre professionals who are blogging fool you. We aren’t all just sitting here, reading scripts and deciding what projects we’d like to do, while getting huge paychecks, etc. In fact, many of the other bloggers have a day-to-day life not unlike your own, in that they are working a full-time day job, providing at least for themselves, or sometimes more people, and taking every chance to perform at night, weekends, vacations, etc until they can finally make a living at it and quit the day job.

    I think the main difference is the mindset. Do you consider yourself a “whatever your job is” who does some acting on the side, or do you consider yourself an actor who currently has to work other jobs to make ends meet? I think maybe your next step is figuring out the answer to that question. Because I think your mindset will help you figure out what to do next, and also will help the people around you understand where you want to be. Does that make sense?

    Let me know what you come up with. 🙂 And whatever the answer is, it’s great that you have a passion for this!

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