Theatre Information

“I am so tired”

By • Apr 8th, 2009 • Category: An Actor's Advice

We all get tired at some point in time. Depending on our jobs, sleeping habits, and the kind of day we have, some of us get more tired than others.

Being in a play can be tiring as well. Particularly at the community level. Volunteer actors at the end of what may have already been a tiring day for them gather in the mid to late evening to either perform or rehearse a show for 2 hours. (More during tech week of course.)

It’s not for the faint of heart, or the weak of constitution.

That is not to say you should not do theatre if you feel tired in the evening. As I mentioned, most people would be. Beyond a certain point if you are always tired, perhaps you should skip auditioning for a show. However, what I am really suggesting here is that once you are in a play, keep whatever level of fatigue you are feeling to yourself.

It is a common experience in the theatre’s I have performed in, to hear at least one’s colleague complain of being tired in any number of creative ways. Obviously enhanced yawns. Slapping of faces. The simple yet direct approach of uttering the words, “I am so tired” with as much frequency as possible backstage to anyone who will listen.

Indeed, if some actors I have worked with were half as creative on stage as they were back stage in expressing how tired they were, they’d be superstars by now.

Not only is it clear that most people are probably not running on a full tank by 7:00PM, (thereby making it an unnecessary declaration), but it can actually make the situation worse than it needs to be.

We tend to reflect and enhance that to which we draw attention. If we take every chance to mention to someone how tired we are, we bring out fatigue to the forefront of our minds during a play. That is where our performance skills ought to be. If the most significant thing you can think about 4 nights before you open a show is how tired you are, your performance will be a tired performance.

Worse that that, you start to exude an aura of fatigue wherever you go. Your dragging, yawning, moaning and complaining can be contagious, and lend an overall deflated atmosphere to an entire production, depending on how obvious you are about doing it.

You do yourself, your director, and all your cast mates a huge favor when you come to the theatre by accepting the fact that you are fatigued, and assuming that everyone else, to varying degrees, is fatigued as well. That way you can instead put at the front of your mind, “Tonight I am going to perfect that scene I am having trouble”, or “I am excited about how the show is starting to come together.” With affirmations such as these, you will be able to find performance energy in spite of being tired.

And you will not run the risk of everyone else, especially me, growing tired of you.

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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.

2 Responses »

  1. Interesting article on “tired”. I am one of those actors who works a day job and do my theater at night. I agree, it can be exhausting. I have also been guilty at times to express how tired I am, but as I prepare to rehearse or hit the stage I reach deep down and give 100-110% to the show. But that’s just me and my work ethic. When I have seen or heard others overly expressing how tired they are, I go to them and try and help them rally the hidden energy they have to be at their best. I have found when the entire cast does this for each other, when the cast works as a team and not individual actors in their own bubble, the experience of performing becomes high energy, no matter how tired we are. Last night for e is an example. I was working a fight scene and had been at it for about 30 minutes. it was tiring. We had been just been doing the fight. The director said, one more time slowly, then we’ll take a break and work in the last of the scene after the fight. I said I was tired and needed a break. My co-actor said, “come on, we can do this, let’s show him.” Those little words of encouragement really helped, we not only did the fight, but surprised the director by continuing in full speed mode, and finishing the entire scene. I think we all get tired, even the “professionals” who do this for a living. However, when we work together to overcome being tired, it doesn’t seem so bad and the rehearsal / performance is successful and rewarding.

  2. Well put, Ty and Dave. It always helps to have encouragement from fellow cast mates to get over the tiredness vibe felt backstage. Some shows require more rehearsing than others, and longer rehearsals, and that’s when tiredness can really set in. For example, I recently did a 3 hour 15 min long version of Amadeus, with rehearsals that were 4 nights a week plus Saturdays. On a concrete floor stage. But what got us all through it was not the director’s encouragement, but the rallying by fellow cast – especially one guy fondly dubbed “The Candyman” who supplied us with all sorts of “bad” stuff (you know who you are! ;-D)