Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Life of a "Jack of all Trades"

As I said before theatre is my addiction. From the very moment that I first watched rehearsals of a church Easter Play and got to stay late and explore the newly made set I was hooked. I would watch the proceedings from all different angles, I would sneak backstage and try to see all the secrets. who was lining up to enter next? Wasn't it amazing how that one set piece was able to be just folded up and set aside when it came offstage. I wanted to see the show from all angles, see all the secrets that made the magic you saw onstage. It should have been no surprise that I would become a "jack of all trades" when it came to the theatre.

A "Jack of all Trades" in the theatre is a lot like the duct tape that keeps the Company together. We're only perfect solutions for a few things but can be used as an adequate solution for anything. In the course of my theatre experience I've worked fronstage and backstage. I've worked everything from lights to props to costumes to building the sets. I've played the lead onstage and worked the ticket booth in the house. I've written the plays and directed them. When it comes to filling the staff of a small theatre house you usually want two or three of me before you hire any of the professionals. This isn't to brag about any of my accomplishments (because there are plenty of things that I can't do) but it can show you the virtue of learning as many things about your chosen profession that you can even if you feel you'll never be hired to do those extra things. 

In the small town theatre world (and just about anywhere else) you're going to be hired by small houses of five hundred seats or less that suffer from the three "Un's". That is Underrated, Underfunded, and Understaffed. Even if they hire you just to act don't expect that all you'll do is act and go to rehearsals. You may be asked to "volunteer" for several extra things backstage or in the office during the course of the run. And, in the cold blooded business world, having extra skills and experience can give you staying power in the Company. I know as a producer that if I have a young actress that can also paint beautifully I'm going to be looking for other shows that would be perfect for her in the next season. Another perk? You don't have to be a certain "type" to work backstage so even if you don't get cast in a show you may still have a job if you have skill that they need. What people are we always looking for? If you can paint, sew, use power tools, or lift some heavy things we want to keep you!

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