Theatre Information

Commit to Acting

By • Oct 3rd, 2012 • Category: An Actor's Advice

If you are going to act, act. That may seem nonsensical, but trust me it isn’t. I say that because for some reason people feel that if they are not bound by a contract, theatre is something which they can dabble in from time to time, commit to half-heartedly, and bail out on at any moment. Since one is not getting paid, one sees little use in being reliable. Or otherwise one grabs up every chance to be in a show they can get, regardless of the circumstances, and simply drops the one that suits their preferences the least.

If you are not bound by contract to be in a show, but have elected to anyway, there should be very little reason for you to not continue with the program. A few exist, I am sure. Such is life. But commitment is commitment, and if you don’t think you can provide that to a show for any number of reasons, you owe it to the show, the others in it, and in the end, to yourself, to not agree to take part in the project.

It isn’t just that your name will be attached to a project. (Or attached and removed frequently.) It isn’t just that the arts as a whole are just as worthy of your dedication as any other endeavor in society, if not more. It is a matter of respect for what a show is.

When you only agree to be in a show because there is nothing better to do, or because you are killing time until a “better gig” shows up, you are making the case that your own aggrandizement is more important than the time and effort being put into a play by the others involved. The director. The other actors. The crew. And people who may have been denied a place in the play because it was given to you instead. There are in fact more people involved in the theatre world than you, personally.

Community theatre has a reputation for being of lesser quality because of these very difficulties. It is seen as a joke, often because actors of lesser quality or dedication allow it to be a joke. They may or may not show up for rehearsal. They may or may not be off book by the time they were supposed to be. They will be in a show for now, but if down the road there is something more interesting happening in their life, they will do that instead. All such behaviors, and more, contribute to the long-standing black eye through which community theatre must view the world.

Not that there are no dedicated, talented people in the community theatre ranks. There are many, in fact. I work with them all the time. And sometimes even they have their lives intrude and they are unable to contribute as much as they otherwise would. But if art for art’s sake (which in the end community theatre should be) is not enough of a payment in your mind to give of your time and energy, perhaps theatre is not the place for you to spend your spare time.

If you wish to act, act. Commit to it. Be an actor, wherever you get the chance, so long as it is appealing and enjoyable to you. But go all in, or don’t bother. Don’t sling your coat over the good seats to keep other people from sitting there while you are meandering around the neighborhood seeing what else is going on. Especially if once things begin, you grab your coat and go.

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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. Well spoken Ty. The thing that gets me though is those directors who cast these people you speak of over and over again. True, directors don’t always know the acting habits of everyone, but most of us who have been around a while do know who they are. I have seen time and time again these people being cast by the same directors time and again with the same results, not showing for rehearsal, leaving early, not learning lines not available for every production and on and on. Yes, if you are going to act, then act. And give it 110%. Some of us may not be as talented, but for me as a director I would prefer to cast a less talented actor who goes all in that’s the person I know I can work with, rather than the one who is only 90% or who may drop out for something “better”. Someone who does that sort of thing to me once, will never get a chance to do it to me a second time.

  2. Well spoken indeed. There is no task undertaken that can be undermined,faster and more thoroughly then with lack of commitment. I have been blessed to work with nothing but the most devoted individuals in my three years of community theater. However I have dealt with bad attitudes in other areas. I know how frustrating it is. I have only to say this to those who do not put forth their best effort. If you wish to embarrass yourself on stage that’s the way to go.If you do not care about embarrassing others,well shame on you.
    David James