Thursday, June 14, 2012

Triple Threat

A triple threat in the theatre world is someone who can sing, dance and act. It is what we strive to be.  Now that the world has seen "Sweeney Todd" and "Company" on Broadway there is also a new term, "Quadruple threat" as we all played instruments as well.

As an actor, the more skills you can offer on your resume under the "Special skills" category the more you have a chance to stand out from the crowd. Sometimes it is: "sings parts well, works with children well, juggles, tumbles, plays flute" etc.   Sometimes it's fun, as in: "terrific scream, can recite alphabet backwards" etc.

We actors are trained to not only be exceptional at our craft but to be interesting additions to ensembles and casts.  A smart theatre highlights the skills of the actor in PR and marketing the shows they offer because newspapers and TV folks need a "hook" that is more than just your next show.

An actor also must network and keep in touch with the important people who can cast them in shows. Must. It's not how good you are in most high end circumstances because everyone is good, it's who you know and how well you fit the "breakdown" of what the director is looking for in that character.

Apply to theatre:  Theatre is the "actor".  Not the building.  If a theatre is great at offering it's "shows",  that might be one skill set.  If it wants to make it in today's "one stop shopping" world, it should expand it's skill set.  Perhaps by being great at PR, or being the "connection" to stars in other fields like rock, pop, jazz, art.  Maybe it offers good classes to corporations. Perhaps it creates it's own buzz with paparazzi that draws attention to the restaurants, gyms, boutiques in town. Maybe it lines up fashion shows for the local dress shops and utilizes it's reach to models and photographers.  All of that goes under "special skills for a "theatre".

What if they also were good at organizing events such as "The Arts and Ideas" festival in New Haven? Or The Newport Jazz Festival in RI.  Or The Lancaster Festival in OH.  Or Jazz at the Lake in Lake George.  A little outside the normal skills that are required of a theatre, but certainly a plus to a community in terms of drawing in a new set of folks to the area as well as business to local stores, hotels and restaurants.  A cultural "arm" and reach that a community might not already have.

Then, what if it also adopted the attitude most successful actors have?  "Here is what I can do for you in this show.  If you want it, great, if not, someone else will".  I'll keep on auditioning.

Now if you are a "normal" theatre, that has set down roots (a building)  first and you have already defined yourself as just a "show-offering entity" you are stuck if that is not all that the community needs and supports.  But if you stay "virtual" for a while, you get to be part of "auditioning" the areas that need you.  You can find out what they need in addition to your professional shows.  You can fit the "breakdown" more if you get to know the community.

Networking will be necessary and goes both ways. Them with you, and you networking them out to your own contacts.  Side note: Between Jamibeth and me we have so many industry contacts and such a long reach, that it's almost hard to find a person we can't reach.

In the beginning of an actor's career we sometimes have to go over and beyond the norm to be able to add that show or theatre credit to our resumes.  We have to be flexible and unique and open-minded if we want to be "working actors".

Why shouldn't a theatre have the same mind-set?

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