Theatre is complicated, no matter what your role. Professionals make it look easy, as any professional in any field does. Stage managers have their blocking, cues, line notes. Actors think about their obstacles and objectives and using their favorite techniques. Costumers need to find or create costumes; sound designers need to make the perfect sounds and lighting designers need to make the perfect light mixtures.
Hopefully, you are doing your part in theatre out of love and passion. Hopefully, what you’re doing isn’t a chore and is something you actually love.
Hopefully, you’re actually having fun.
My family and I recently saw a performance of a national tour that visited our city. The show is one of my personal favorites, and I had been waiting for months to see it. Much to my disappointment, the show wasn’t impressive at all. The singing and choreography were stunning, but the acting felt very flat.
On the drive home, my family and I were discussing the show, as we do with each one we see. I brought up that from what I saw, the actors weren’t actually enjoying themselves. They were saying the right words, going through the motions, singing the songs and dancing the numbers, and they did it beautifully. But they did it without passion.
Actors thrive off the energy from the audience. When an audience is engaged, attentive, and having fun, the energy rises and feeds the actors. Laughter, cheering and clapping can add to the excitement of the show. So can utter silence – the kind of utter silence that comes from the tension and weight of a well-performed scene.
It’s important, however, to note that the audience feeds off the actors as well. It becomes a cycle. Even my family, who are not actors, felt a total lack of energy or enthusiasm from the actors we watched and we all felt disappointed and drained as a result.
Fellow actors: the audience can tell when you don’t want to be there.
And I understand. Tours can be long. The weeks can be long. Even if you’ve been performing at the same venue on Broadway for months, it is tiring.
But if you’re not still having fun and loving every minute of it, despite the exhaustion, it may be time to re-evaluate why you are there.
If you’re not having fun, the character isn’t done justice, the production and team are not done justice, you have done yourself no justice, and the audience is let down as well.
Hopefully, you do what you do because you enjoy it, and you want to enjoy your career. So don’t forget to have fun.
Photo: Pleasant Valley High School