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Are You Seeing Enough Theatre?

July 18, 2014


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If you’re reading this blog, you probably share my opinion that nothing is greater than working onstage or behind the scenes on a piece of theatre. What about when you’re not working, though? Are you spending enough time in the audience? I’ve always loved attending theatre recreationally, but never realized how important it is professionally until a couple of years ago when I was working on the show that got me my Equity card.

Sitting around at night in the Hamptons drinking wine with my fellow castmates who were almost all far more seasoned professionals than I was, I realized that even after four years in the biz, I still knew shockingly little about the power players in the industry and the current minutiae of who was working on what project cast by whom at which theater directed by so-and-so.

My cast members, who were mostly Broadway vets, spoke frequently about trying to fit in every show they wanted to go see on their infrequent nights off. Even when they are rehearsing Broadway shows all day, they spend their evenings running around town seeing as much theatre as they can squeeze in. It was a real wake-up call to hear all of them talking about people or projects I’d never heard of, and I knew that I needed to up my game and work on being way more “current.”

Now some of that detailed industry knowledge is just something that comes with years spent putting in the work in this business, but you can definitely help speed it along in a variety of ways. Reading the industry publications (like religiously is one great way, but there’s no substitute for getting off your butt at home and getting on your butt in a New York City theater. There’s no other way to have a rich and intellectual knowledge of the work that’s being done and what this director did prior or what artistic director came from where or how you feel about the work being done at such-and-such theater without putting in the time watching others work.

My friends know that I’ll drop anything I’m doing or bake a treat to be devoured by anyone for a free show ticket, and there’s a good reason for that: it’s one of the most fun ways to “work” as an actor when you’re not onstage. It feels great to be so “in the know.” Even if you can’t afford Broadway tickets every week, you can definitely afford the $5 tickets offered to places like NYTW and Irish Rep on the mailing list.

And I’m happy to note that while I’m sure I still have a long way to go, I would be a far more compelling member of those late-night wine-drinking Hamptons conversations now.

Are you seeing enough theatre?



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