What Doing Theatre Taught Me About Life

  1. For the audition: Read up on the play, know who your character is and what they do. Be positive, execute the reading or scene with emotion and flair. And then let it go, try not to obsess over your phone, checking over and over to see if there is a message. Let it go. If you don’t get this one, you’ll get another one. Be positive. Positive!
  2. In rehearsal: Be polite, professional, and pleasant. Kinda like a Stepford wife… No, I’m kidding. Just be positive, engaged, listen, interact positively with the cast and crew, and learn your lines, learn them yesterday!
  3. Read your cues: The last lines the actor who speaks before you are your cue. You’d better be on the lookout for those words and be ready, set, go, to speak your own lines as soon as the last person is done. If you miss your cue, if you don’t say your lines, the play will turn into a jumbled mess. Unless some other actor comes to the rescue…
  4. If you drop a line, let it go, and immediately go on: If you keep thinking about your dropped lines, you will miss your next cue and drop the next lines as well. Acknowledge to yourself, in the split second it takes, that yes, you dropped a line, and move on, move on, move on! Onstage is no place to dwell in the past, keep moving!
  5. Be dressed to the nines! Dress for the part, whether it is glam or old person, theatre calls for perfect wardrobe. The way you dress your character will give the audience clues to their nature, intent, future actions.
  6. Makeup and Hair are important: Very important, don’t want to look washed out in those bright spot lights. Contouring and color and false eyelashes, oh my! Don’t want teeny bopper hair for a 70 year old character, or maybe you do…
  7. When it’s your turn in the spotlight, SHINE! Shine! Find your light, the light techs are trying to find you, if they’re off a bit, if you’re off a bit, STEP into the light and own it and speak your lines with all the emotion the scene calls for! This is your moment, life has thrown it your way, own it and shine!
  8. Enjoy it as much as you can, it goes by fast: Always be positive! Just enjoy it, don’t gripe, complain, live in negativity. It really does go by in the blink of an eye, so enjoy your scenes, enjoy working with the other actors, who are craftsmen in their own right. Enjoy the comedy, the tragedy, the pathos, the sheer excellence of the play and your being in it!
  9. Enjoy time backstage with the other actors: This is your family for the next little while, enjoy their company backstage, support and give them praise. High five, high five, and more high fives. If you zip up someone’s dress, they’ll zip up your impossible to zip up dress in the 5 minutes you have to change from 65 year old to 35 year old glamor girl!
  10. Leave the negativity out of it altogether. Always be positive, it goes by fast and you’ll miss it: Yes you will miss it like the devil when it’s over. All those feel good chemical levels in your brain will crash, and you may experience a very low low. It’s scary, but just remember the brilliance of the play and know that the low will pass, this too shall pass!
  11. Mind the director, his job is to put on the play and he is thinking about all the characters, scenes, places, all at the same time. Write down everything he says so you don’t have to ask him again. The director’s job is not to be nice, it IS to put on a smashing play. So mind the director.
  12. Don’t worry too much about the critics, they have nothing better to do than pick apart a good and valiant effort and someone else’s hard work. Take it as constructive criticism as much as you can, after that, if their words are hurtful, let them go. you are not defined by someone else’s words, negative or positive.
  13. Bask in the glory of applause, and adoration the audience directs your way. The standing ovations, the sitting ovations, the comments in the greeting line of how marvelous you were, yes these feed an actor’s soul, so enjoy them. And then let them go and move on to the next show.
  14. And always break a leg!

My last play and my most favorite play is the brilliant Larry Muhammad’s “Jockey Jim” is about the great African American Jockey James Winkfield, who was written out of history, but we are bringing him back. Some links about this great man below:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/samina-raza/jimmy-winkfiled-an-amazin_b_9825782.html

http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/jimmy-winkfield-horse-racing-legend

About Larry Muhammad, the brilliant playwright: http://insiderlouisville.com/lifestyle_culture/larry-muhammad-play-highlights-the-fascinating-story-of-black-jockey-jimmy-winkfield/

https://networks.h-net.org/node/73374/announcements/122363/not-profit-play-about-famous-kentucky-derby-jockey-jimmy

My favorite pictues of “Jockey Jim” and Lyddy, Lyddy, and more Lyddy. I miss her.

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