Finding the Balance
I find myself in a unique position nowadays. I’m currently pursuing a degree in theatre production, with plans to graduate with an undergraduate degree in stage management. I absolutely love production and doing all of the nitty-gritty behind-the-scenes work, as well as being able to put my colour coding skills to good use. But I am also a performer. I love the rush I get from standing onstage and acting out a scene for an audience or nailing that high note in a complicated song. Both production and performance are all-consuming paths, though, and more and more often I’ve found myself having to choose between one love and another in terms of opportunities. This has raised the important question with me – how do I find a balance between my two theatre loves?
I know a lot of people are in the same boat – especially those in high school theatre, because you’re granted the opportunity to do all of it in one production. I thought I would share a little piece of my journey to theatre balance with all of you so that you know that you’re not alone in the struggle to choose which path to take.
The largest issue, I find, is time – or lack thereof. Production means long hours in the carpentry shop, costuming room, rehearsal hall, or performance space, making sure everything is running smoothly and that actors will be clothed and standing on something when opening day finally comes. When you’re working every evening on building a show, how do you find time to also work on things like voice, your own monolouges, or dance classes?
For me, it’s coming down to really, truly carving out the time for them. Too often this past term I found myself coming home from a crew shift, deciding I was too tired to do anything else, and promising that I’d work on it the next day – only to have the cycle repeat. Making the decision to set aside a chunk of time every day, preferably at the same time, to work on whatever you need to work on in the opposite discipline (for me, it’s the performance aspect) is one that needs to be taken seriously. Sometimes that means not going out with friends or watching quite as much Netflix – and that’s okay. You gotta do what you gotta do for the art form you love.
This leads me to my second discovery – it’s okay to allow theatre to take over my life (within reason – which I’ll get to later). If I want to be a theatre professional, that will literally be my job. Give yourself permission to research monologues instead of watching TV, or to go to a dance class instead of going out with friends. Missing the live season premiere of your favourite show is a small price to pay for honing your craft – and I promise you, at the end of the day, you’ll feel a lot better knowing you’re seriously dedicating your time to it (see what I did there?). It’s okay to put your career first.
But everything in moderation. The final discovery that I want to share is that sometimes you need a break from the theatre – and that’s okay too. There will be parts of the job that you hate. There will be times when you’ve allowed theatre to take over too much of your life and you find that you need to take a step back. That doesn’t make you any less dedicated or passionate than anybody else – it makes you human. I actually find that when I take a bit of a break from the theatre world, the work I do immediately after is better because I’m approaching it with fresh eyes and a new creative energy. In the same way that you’ve given yourself permission to allow theatre to take over your life, give yourself the space you need to make sure that you’re always giving your all. We all need to recharge – allow yourself to do that.
I’ve only just begun the journey to balancing my two theatre loves. I know, at the end of the day, that one will need to be my focus – as one of my favourite professors says, “You can do everything, just not at the same time” – but for now, I am going to continue working towards finding this balance. I hope that this post has helped any of you who are also struggling to make the important theatre decisions. You are not alone. We’ll take this journey together – one step at a time.