Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My obsession: Community Theatre - I must be CRAZY!

"There are 2 major differences between Professional Theatre and Amateur Theatre:
1 - Professionals have more training and are paid more
2 - Amateurs do it ONLY for the love of Theatre"

Community Theatre in London, Ontario is competitive yet very supportive.
Actors work for many theatre companies at a time and most local companies network
- it's not what you know all the time but WHO YOU KNOW!
You've heard this all before I'm sure but it's true!

Time and time again, I see young actors walking into an audition and they have not combed their hair, they have not read the script, they have not researched the theatre company they're auditioning for AND they're wearing jeans or spandex with holes in the knees.
Welcome to Community Theatre!

It is so refreshing when an actor comes into an audition who has not yet had much stage time/experience but they are eager and willing and you can see that they are passionate about the arts and about learning more.  Nine times out of ten, a director and/or production team would rather work with someone who has no theatre experience but who took direction well in an audition and who appears eager, friendly and dedicated than some experienced diva who thinks that they are going to be famous one day, who cannot take direction and who no one can imagine spending one evening with for drinks let alone 3 months in rehearsals!!!

It takes a certain person to be able to survive and thrive at a Community Theatre level. 

As an actor, you have roughly 3 months to memorize your lines, rehearse each moment of the show and put on a one or two week long performance WITHOUT getting paid or expecting payment.  Honourariums are always a nice treat and they remind actors that the show could not have gone on without them. 
Did I is also expected that Cast & Crew are also (more often than not) expected to "strike the set" meaning that after the final performance (finishing between 10 and 11pm) they are expected to stay back or come into the theatre early the next morning to tear down the set.  SO MUCH FUN! 

Having said all this, when I think of Community Theatre, I do not think of the long hours, the transporting to and from rehearsals, finding the spare time to memorize my lines or all the political "fluff" that goes on behind the stage. 

Instead, I think of the friends I will make knowing that the fellow actors will need to depend on me as much as I will them. 
I think about all that I can learn from a director who is passionate about the script, the stories between the lines and the unforgettable characters within the tale.
I think of all the connections I will make and the people I will be able to learn from.
I think of the satisfaction of going from the initial read-through (which is usually crap), through the blocking of the individual scenes (who stands where and when), droolingly long evening rehearsals right up to the opening night!  It brings such joy to be able to look back at the work done, all the time spent and all that you have accomplished individually and as a member of a team.

There is no other job satisfaction than that which one recieves while taking a bow after a performance.
More than likely, it was a job you were never paid to do.