When you start performing, the idea is immediately put in your head that you have to be a triple threat to survive in the business. You have to sing, dance, act, and have additional skills. Just being good at one or two and okay at the rest was never good enough. What happens when you look at your cast and see that there’s those certain individuals that seem to have it all, but you are only confident in one or two things? Does that mean you need to hang up your character shoes and pick a new dream? Of course not!
I don’t consider myself a traditional triple threat. I may be confident in my acting ability, but my singing and dancing are certainly weak points. I don’t give up though. I have been working on singing and taking every dance class I can to try and improve my skills. Also, just because I consider acting a strength doesn’t mean I stop trying to grow in that field either. I always find ways to make myself a well-rounded performer.
So you can’t do a triple pirouette while belting a high E flat and seamlessly flow into Luciana’s monologue from The Comedy of Errors...frankly, I have yet to meet someone who can. Here are some ways you can stand out at an audition, class, or production when you aren’t a standard triple threat:
● Never stop learning
Take every opportunity possible to help you improve your craft. Go to workshops, take voice lessons, go see productions, read plays. The possibilities are endless when it comes to things that can help you improve.
● Research your mistakes
When I first started doing theatre, I was positive I could not sing to save my life. I never
had a single lesson, I cracked on almost every note, and don’t get me started on breath support. I sat down with a friend and we plunked out some notes on the piano and found out that I wasn’t tone deaf. I was just trying to sing out of my limited, untrained range. I began to look at more alto songs and different genres to flatter my stronger lower register.
When I am able to, I always ask for feedback during rehearsals, auditions, or even just trying new material out on friends. It’s amazing the things you don’t realize until you see it through someone else’s eyes. This goes for everything. Songs, dances, monologues, anything. One of my friends never realized that when they learn new choreography, they dance with their tongue sticking out.
● Don’t doubt the strengths you do have
If you consider acting or comedic delivery your strongest suit, look for roles that can help you showcase it. I’ve always been considered the geeky best friend typecast. That turned out to be my saving grace when I auditioned for my first Shakespeare production and landed my dream role of Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
● You’d be surprised what natural quirks inspire directors
In the previously mentioned A Midsummer Night’s Dream production, the director told me something I had never heard before. My lisp was the cutest character choice he’d seen. My entire life I was embarrassed by my speech impediment, but then this new director tells me it added to his vision for my character perfectly. He encouraged me to just let it happen and not be so self-conscious about it. Apparently, it was subtle enough to add a quirk to the character while not being so prominent that I couldn’t be understood. He and I even worked on bits where we emphasized the lisp for the sake of comedy. This quality, that used to get me teased in middle school, turned into the icing on the cake for one of the roles I’m most proud of.
You never know what will make you stand out to a director. Take pride in your strengths and work to turn your weaknesses into strengths. Every snowflake that comes down in a blizzard is unique and so is every actor that walks across the stage. No one is perfect; that’s one of the great parts of being human.
Photo: Nebraska Association of Community Theatres