Depending on the show, rehearsals can start months before the performance or sometimes just two or three weeks before the big show. We start with auditions – 5 excruciating minutes that feels like will determine your entire future. Once the show has been cast, it’s onto the read through. We sit in a circle and read the show from beginning to end, an exciting time to get a glimpse of the people that you will become very close with while you create something together. We typically start with music and choreography, then off to blocking the show (figuring out where you come on or off stage and were to stand on stage). It’s important to get off book early (not have to use your script) so that we can really get into the meat of the show- the acting. Each rehearsal we put our pride aside to act like cats, dogs, old women, young men or sometimes even fish (yes, I was in a show where I was an Irish fish…). We keep a level of professionalism while allowing ourselves to have fun. We gather props, costumes and figure out a set. Sometimes there is staff to take care of this and sometimes the cast all pitches in to get these things done. The week before the show the cast and crew freak out, wondering how we can possibly show people this performance in 7 days and the show nightmares begin with everything that could possibly go wrong with the performance.
We load into the theatre and have 4 short hours to set lights, unpack our things and arrange the stage. This is the start to a week in the theatre with long hours and lots of problem solving. Opening day means many butterflies and upset tummies. 7:00 rolls around, we put our nerves aside and do what our bodies have practiced for so long. Somehow, we are more energized and alive then we have ever been. Before you know it, the show is over and the audience is either clapping, laughing, crying or squirming but regardless of what they are doing, you have made them FEEL. You’ve evoked an emotion that will hopefully cause them to think, ponder and appreciate what they saw.
Every show that I’ve done, I’ve put life on hold during the course of it. I can’t fully give my attention to anything other than the show. I hate this about myself, yet I keep doing it again and again.
I often wonder why I chose the theatre industry. It’s high stress, low income, unstable and unpredictable. I’ve performed across Canada to sold out shows and shows with two audience members. I’ve toured with my best friends and I’ve toured alone. I’ve performed shows that I loved and shows that I hated. Through all of this I’ve had to learn to truly be happy with my performance, regardless of the audiences’ reaction and to not base my value as a human on what people think of me… which is a very difficult thing to do as a performer.
Even writing this, I have to ask myself, WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF?! And the answer is easy. It’s passion. When I am preforming, creating, painting, working with a team to accomplish something so much bigger then myself I feel PASSION! I feel passionate about creating a piece of art that I can be proud of. Something that causes people to think and feel. Something that pushes me to grow in my craft and my faith.
There’s been times in my life that I’ve had more of an “easy job” and as great as it feels to relax and take it easy, the crazy hard PASSIONATE projects that I’ve worked on have caused me to grow and have taught me that I’m capable of so much more than I thought I was.
Follow your passion and see what you’re capable of.