Theatre Information

Looking Back As You Prepare for the Future

By • Dec 21st, 2011 • Category: An Actor's Advice

The end of the year invites one to look back to what has gone before. Consider the ups and the downs, successes and failures. To evaluate what worked and what did not, and hopefully, to glean knowledge and wisdom which will inform our decisions for the New Year. What would we do over again if we had the chance? How might we approach something from this year differently if we could go back?

I do the same thing with my previous roles and previous productions sometimes. I’ll look back over any given year and review both my private journal for the production, as well as some of my public blog posts on same, and think about what went well and what didn’t in my theatre adventures.

While it isn’t an unusual occurrence, most of us will not get the chance to play the same roles on stage one year as we did the previous year. (In many cases, perhaps we would not wish to do so.) That doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t take something away from looking back over the previous year’s shows. No matter how much theatre you did any given year, ask yourself some questions, the answers to which may take some deep thought, but will also encourage you to dig deeper into the roles you take on next year.

  • What was my least favorite show to be in this year? Why did I hate it? Was it the writing? Cast mates? Direction? Did I contribute to the unpleasantness? What could I have done differently to enjoy the experience, and how can I apply that to my next show?
  • Which play, role, or scene was the easiest for me to perform this year? Which were the most difficult, and why?
  • Are there any roles I played this year that I would just love to play again next year, or for years to come? Did I play anything that I would never want to even consider playing again? What are the reasons I feel this way, and what do they tell me about the roles that speak to me most as an actor? Can I find/avoid similar roles next year?
  • What else has been written by the same playwrights as the shows I most enjoyed being in this year? (Go read them!)
  • Was I in the same type of play each time this year? Was I always playing the same sort of role? Am I happy with that or shall I seek a chance to change it up next year?
  • Could I have gotten any given role that I failed to get this year had I had a specific skill? Can I learn that skill this year?
  • And perhaps the most important question to ask yourself as you review your year in theatre; what scared me the most about my acting this year? Knowing what scares you as an actor is a great indicator of what why your boundaries are what they are. And coming to terms with why something scared you, (whether it be an entire play you didn’t try out for, or a single scene in a show you appeared in) is the first step in moving passed the fear, and expanding you range as an actor.

Once again, it doesn’t matter if you were in five shows this year, or merely had a medium-sized part in a single show. You can still find answers to the questions, and apply them to what you want to do as an actor in 2012. I don’t know if old acquaintance should be forgot, but old theatre experiences should never be for the actor that seeks always to improve. 

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is a Maryland native and has been acting for nine years, having studied it at Marietta College in Ohio. He has been schooled in Shakespeare, improvisation, public speaking and voice articulation throughout his career. His credits to date include over 30 plays and readings as well as 2 films. You can also read his blogs (for theatre related thoughts) and (for thoughts on personal success from an outcast). Follow him on Twitter @TyUnglebower.