Broadway waiterA lot of actors are waiters.

And no, I’m not talking about the kind that serves you burgers at Joe Allen or cosmos at The Snug.  However you make your living to fund your dreams is fine with me.

I’m talking about the kind that waits for their agent to call or waits in line for hours at open calls or waits for the next issue of Backstage to come out to see if there are any auditions.

You know . . . the kind that waits for their big break, and doesn’t do anything to make it happen.

Are you a “waiter?”  If so, let me give you the biggest “tip” ever.

Quit.

No, don’t quit acting.  Quit waiting.

I’m constantly asked by actors how they can attract the attention of Producers, Directors and Agents, oh my.

My two-part answer?

  1. Get yourself seen in a show.
  2. If no one is putting you in one?  Put yourself in one.

Self-producing is easier than you think, and it’s a fantastic way to learn about all areas of the business.  Odds are that you have a network of ambitious actors just like yourself in your world, and if not, find some!  Get some of these folks together and figure out how to put on a show that can showcase your talents.

I’m not saying you have to mount a 15 million dollar revival of No, No, Nanette.  Start with a reading of your favorite play in a rehearsal studio or even in your living room.  Or maybe you’ve got a friend that’s a playwright who has written something that he or she wants to see on its feet. After that, maybe you’ll want to do a staged reading, or even a showcase.

And isn’t that why you got in the business in the first place?  To do shows?  It certainly beats putting stamps on pictures and resumes all alone in your apartment, wondering if they ever even get to anyone.

Producers, directors and agents pay a lot more attention to the shows they see than to the hundreds of pictures and resumes that come across their desks every day.

So get out there and do a show, even if you have to put it up yourself.  You’ll be amazed at what happens when you use your own entrepreneurial energy and the energy of those around you and start working towards a common goal.

You never know what’ll happen until you do it.

But sit around and wait?

I’ll bet you a dinner at Joe Allen that I know exactly where you’ll end up.

And I promise to leave you a good tip.

 

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2 Responses to Why Actors shouldn’t be waiters.

  1. Stephen says:

    I thought I’d add a few words about self-producing and playing to an audience of two, mum and dad! WeAreButterfly.com have taken self-producing to a fine art. One of their regular dates is lunchtime at the new and gorgeous St. James Theatre in the Victoria area of London, next to Wicked and Billy Elliot. Butterfly present $15 lunchtime shows and always SELL OUT the 120 seat capacity studio. But how do they sell out with no marketing budget? Good old fashioned leafleting done by themselves during both the morning and evening rush hours; day-after-day-after-day before and during the run. I recently got burnt by a pro’ leaflet outfit and realised actors make the best leaflet distributors, they have presentation skills and best if a vested interest in the show. Butterfly also target the local office blocks, attracting first time theatre goers who are happy to spend lunchtime munching their sandwich to speeded-up Shakespeare.

  2. George says:

    Here! Here!

    When I started to produce my first play (back in 2011) I had a very difficult time getting Actors together and keeping them – in – on the project… and NOT because they were busy with other projects (that I could understand) but they had 101 excuses to miss getting together to just do Read Thrus w/o a definitive “Play Date” on the schedule as I was trying to figure out how – exactly – I wanted to stage the work. And, of course, a lot asked how much it was paying… huh? As much as I am getting paid to put up my own $$$ to make this happen!

    NOTHING!

    Okay – I understand that my work was a bit more challenging that most of the works they had done “British Restoration Comedy” (Redux) with wigs, and walking sticks and stylized movement and the King’s English… and some fairly challenging phraseology… but – seriously – as Ken says, every night you are not up acting… is a night when someone else IS! And, after going thru 50 Actors, the 10 who stuck with me had a pretty decent Equity Showcase production with production values far above what most would expect Off-Off-Broadway (heck, my costumes, alone, cost over $15K)

    And their a lot of the people they brought in for those performances came up to me and thanked me for really putting a 1st class production together (no modern street clothes and empty room with a couple of chairs) and those 10 Actors are not my core for the Next Play… I won’t talk the the people who didn’t think I could get my act together (though a good many came by and expressed interest…)

    Sorry – another good suggestion for the “waiters” when someone offers you something – specifically because they saw your work and liked what you do – don’t disrespect them by blowing off the chance to work with them if all the ducks aren’t quite lined up – specifically IF you are not doing something else… why shoot yourself in the foot???

    My – other advice – when the Theatre-as-we-know-it-World collapses (ans it soon will) don’t be surprised of Theatre Acting isn’t more like Operatic Singing… as far as the opportunities go i.e. You should have 10 to 20 roles in classic plays ready to go – so You can do Rep Theatre where you may be playing 5 or 10 different roles over a season – heck even playing a different role on different nights of the week!

    That’s how the Theatre Companies in the Soviet Union survived when the State Run Ponzi Scheme fell apart – they (stole) the costumes and sets from the vacated State run Theatres and went out on the Road doing dozens of plays in hundreds of towns… maybe even only for dinner…and thrived! But only the versatile Actors who knew several parts by heart where of any value… there was NO time for more than a couple of rehearsals – yo knew the “character” and adapted to the space and play withing a company that similarly dedicated fellow Actors.

    Trust me – that is what it’s going to be like once the world realizes that the US will never pay off it’s debt. It’s be out to the Provinces! And the Best will survive!

    g

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