There is something amazing about being part of a theatre company. A great director said once, during a pep talk to the cast and crew:
“Look after each other. Don’t worry too much about yourself. When you hit that down moment, someone else will be there for you like you were there for them.”
Major ad-libbing there, but that was the jist. It’s an idea that’s stuck with me on my journey since. Life is tough and the arts can change lives. Remember: even if the production your working on isn’t exactly your cup of tea, know that its perfect brew for someone. It’s your duty as a performer to do the project justice.
You’re all a team
Whether your onstage or off, be respectful of each (and every) person working on the production. It’s important to use their input to inform your character choices. It’s nice having total ownership on that role you played in a pub theatre in Brighton. But, when you are actually offered a costume from a designer that knows their stuff, take their input on board.
Trust your instincts, yes, but be open enough to take notes from everyone on the team, they have the projects best interests at heart.
Teamwork makes the dream work
We all know this little phrase! Work together to tell the story. Don’t be that person who upstages everyone else and doesn’t know their lines. By taking responsibility for your work, you’re helping the team. Thus helping tell your part of the story with the rest of the team.
Yes, this even applies to things like bringing enough snacks into the rehearsal room and carrying pens and pencils! There’s nothing more annoying than that one person who never has food or the tools they need to get the job done. Preparation is key.
Work hard, play hard
Working hard is one thing, playing hard is another. I don’t mean pulling an all-nighter the day before you open the show… believe me I’ve seen it happen. I mean, being part of the theatre company involves joining the cast and crew for a celebratory pint – beer or OJ, whatever your poison.
Birthdays will inevitably come up during the run. Take this opportunity to organise a gift or surprise for that person. It’s a lovely way to bond with everyone. You’re away from home and your loved ones, so make the effort to make everyone feel at home, even if it is just that little bit.
A great company member is someone who is still learning. A good anything is someone who is always learning, to be honest. I’ve been blown away by watching great actors and actresses do their thing in rehearsals. Then been stunned by having them come and ask me about my ways of working. It’s both a humbling and enlightening experience.
It’s important to know that your methods of building characters and annotating texts will change. So you have to be willing to adapt. Add other ideas from people into your toolkit, it will help you in the long run.
Of course, you’ll socialise and make new friends, but remember the rehearsal room is your professional zone. Naturally, you’ll have laughs and jokes, but try to keep that in-joke from last weeks trip to Zizzi’s for in the green room.
Another important tip for the professionalism section – be on time. No one likes waiting for last-minute Larry, so get the early bus, even if it means you’re there 30 minutes before your call. Use the time wisely and warm up and learn your lines.
The general ‘rule’? Work hard and be nice. You are a team and whether Kate got the job over your best friend is neither here nor there. For this all to brief time, you’ll be living and working in the pockets of your temporary family, so make it count. Learn and help each other blossom as performers and crew and you’ll be called back into that theatre company time and time again.
Pippa is an actress born and bred in Southend-on-Sea, Essex. After training at Bristol Old Vic she has worked all over the UK and is currently expanding her first play and writing her own comedy stand up show. Born a mover, she loves ballet, juggling, cycling and hitting the surf in Cornwall. She also runs her own business and has plans to travel and change the world…