A Call for Professionalism

(Photo: Claire Lawrence)

(Photo: Claire Lawrence)

  • Arianna Engnell

Hey, theatre and musical theatre majors! With any field that you are pursuing, practicing professionalism as soon as possible is very important. You are not only training to be an actor but a professional, and similar to acting, a lot of what you learn is through experience, observation, and a diligent work ethic. You cannot pick up professional habits on the first day of your first job. In reality, you will bring with you the bad habits that are developed out of treating rehearsals, call time, and every aspect of theatre as a pastime rather than a potential career during college. Even if theatre is going to end up being more of a hobby for you, you still need to respect those who are pursuing this as a career by pulling your weight. There is an aura of decorum that is required.

Theatre is personal to all involved, and it is crucial that they feel that they can trust you to execute the blocking given while having respect for the costumes, the set, the script, and everything else that you are so blessed to use. It is better to practice professionalism in a safe place that will give you a fair amount of grace like college. For those of you who believe this to be common sense, bless you for making life easier for those around you.

●      Naturally, the people involved in a show may develop into a family, but that doesn’t happen instantaneously. There are boundaries that you should not cross; especially, the first rehearsal.

●      Do not try to make people break character onstage.

●      If you have an idea that may make someone uncomfortable, throw them off, or any additional physical contact, talk to them about it first, and better yet, ask for permission.

●      Do not waste other people’s time by goofing around or not getting back before a break ends.

●      Take care of what you can outside of rehearsal before or after.

●      Everyone makes mistakes. It’s OK, but please for the love of God, let the rehearsal move on. There’s no need to apologize for messing up a line or blocking. Just do it. The ability to laugh at yourself is great, but let’s keep the rehearsal going. Do not make everyone wait as you try to recover.

●       Be respectful to the stage management crew. They have a lot of work to do that you do not even see. They are the first people in the rehearsal room and the last people to leave. The stage manager, above all else, deserves your utmost respect.

●       If you do not remember your line, do not pull yourself out of the scene. All you have to say is, “line” and someone will feed you the line so the rehearsal can keep going. Anything else you say in response to not remembering your line is only wasting time.

●      You cannot arrive late. You really should arrive about 15 minutes early.

●      You must get off-book as directed. To consistently call lines or bring your book, onstage is unacceptable.

●      Swearing is pretty common, but a lot of swearing tends to show a lack of decorum. It is not professional behavior to swear like a sailor. A rehearsal space should be respected, just like any workplace.

●      Treat your director and everyone around you with respect. Listen to notes and take them. Do not talk over your director.

●      Unless the blocking places your physical and/or mental health at risk, do not tell your director that you cannot do the blocking.

●      Do not suggest blocking or give character notes to other actors. It is not your place. Be cautious about suggesting blocking ideas in general, and definitely do not interrupt the director as they are blocking to suggest a blocking idea.

●       If you are asked to bring a rehearsal skirt or anything of the like, bring one. If you don’t have one, go to a thrift store or invest in a really nice skirt. A rehearsal skirt is necessary for almost every show, so get one! Please bring pencils, pens, highlighters, and whatever you may need to rehearse. It is your responsibility. You should not expect your director, stage manager, or assistant stage managers to provide them for you.

●      You cannot coast in this highly competitive profession.

Theatre is a small community, and word spreads quickly about who is good to work with and who to avoid. How would you like to be known?