When I started my theatre career, other theatre professionals would often tell me "if you can see yourself doing anything other that theatre, do that." I hated this!...because of course I could see myself doing other things...I have a knack for marketing, I love fashion, I enjoy working with kids, I took advanced math classes in High School, plus I'm super crafty...but, none of these things give me the feeling I get when I perform. Performing makes me feel fulfilled...it makes me feel whole. So, can I see myself doing other things? Sure! Would I be happy? No!
For some people, though, theatre is all they have. I used to feel guilty and torn, when I enjoyed doing other things or took different detours...like, if I didn't commit myself fully I wouldn't be worthy of choosing theatre as a career. I struggled with this a lot in college, but can proudly state I never changed my major...only tacked on a minor. (Thanks Mom, for encouraging me to have a back-up). And actually, I did the opposite of what I was told...I embraced, and still continue to do so, all my other interests.
This summer I have spent time working on PR and costumes for a re-established professional theatre company in central Indiana. One of my dear friends had just become the artistic director, and was looking for help. So, I volunteered! It's been fun to be involved in other aspects of the theatre world. I have developed even more respect for all the effort put into a production.
While taking a step back from the spotlight this summer, I reflected upon my experience. And I came to a conclusion, that may not be accepted by other theatre professionals.
THE BEST THING WE CAN DO, AS PERFORMERS, IS PURSUEBOUR OTHER INTERESTS.
The more well-rounded I am, the more I can relate to different characters I may portray.
Example: I remember wishing last summer, when performing in Heathers, that I had done cheerleading at least once while in school. Leading cheers is hard, ya'll...and intimidating. Anyway, the more information and activities I immerse myself in the more prepared I feel as an actor.
On another note, I will also say, that theatre is not glamourous. Unless you're working on Broadway, you will need to do many things on your own. I can not pat myself enough on my back for enrolling in sewing class freshman year of High School instead of theatre. Being able to hem, fix seams, and sew on buttons has come in handy during costume emergencies backstage. My love for make-up has also saved my butt when I, at the age of a 21 year-old, had to believably protray a 65 year-old. None of these things would have been possible if I hadn't pursued my other interests.
It all goes back to the idea, that often the best models are photographers...because they understand what things look like behind the lens.
With that being said, I encourage us to be "jack of all trades." We certainly don't have to master every hobby we enjoy and fully jump in, but it's enough to just get our feet wet. Let us all be well-rounded performers...and people!