A New Role

Within the theatre we all tend to wear a variety of hats. Whether you started off as an actor or started off as a lighting designer, within some point of your career you were needed for something more or something different. So many people define themselves as more than one label. Or as I like to put it, more than one type of opportunity.

Try your hand at lighting design or theatre tech, for example. (Via B Rosen on flickr / CC2.0)

Try your hand at lighting design or theatre tech, for example. (Via B Rosen on flickr / CC2.0)

I think it’s so important as any artist in the theatre to understand the craft as a whole: to know the scenic design process; to know how to handle a box office; to be able to utilize an entire stage. The more you know, the more you can see the different perspectives. If we don’t collectively understand each other’s roles within the theatre, then how are we supposed to all agree to tell a story?

I remember being a sound board operator for a production in college. It was something new to me – I had only been on stage before that. I wasn’t particularly fond of the show or happy with my involvement until our first tech. The second I was wearing a headset and listening to cues, I gained an entire new perspective on the theatre. I couldn’t believe everything it took to create a production, despite having been in shows throughout my life. I had never taken time to look around and understand the involvement of everyone in the productions I had been in. I just saw them as labels and focused on my role. I am so thankful to have had that sound board operating experience because it led me to other roles within the theatre. It gave me a new set of eyes. My attitude had changed and my heart was enthralled by the collective experience.

It’s easy to only focus on where your role in theatre currently is, which is why I think it’s important for people to branch out from their self proclaimed titles of “actor” or “costume designer.” If you’re only vying for yourself and your needs, it becomes selfish and not about the art. Theatre is about a shared experience, not about individuals. If you have the opportunity to volunteer or be part of a production in a new way, do it. It’s amazing the things you can learn from taking a step away and seeing the theatre through another’s eyes.

Realistically, everyone has dreams and goals to where they see themselves in the theatre. However, if you have the chance or some time off to try something new, go for it. Be a stagehand for a friend’s production; audition for an acting role; apply to a stage management position. There is something gained in every experience in the theatre regardless of your role. You may as well take advantage of it and immerse yourself wholeheartedly.

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