“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”
From Sophocles’ Antigone to Shakespeare’s As You Like It to the mega-hits of Broadway like Hello, Dolly! and Hamilton, the theatrical arts have always been an integral part of our culture. Something about the lights, the music, the drama, and the laughter in live theatre pulls us in and whisks us away to another world, brighter and more vivid than our own. I’ve been lucky enough to experience that spectacular sensation myself in all facets of theatre, and with a little hard work and imagination, you can too! Below I’ve outlined three ways you can start your own journey into the wonderful world of theatre.
Ah, the allure of the stage. It can be thrilling to step into another person’s shoes for a little bit and experience their story. After all, that’s really what great actors are: storytellers. And everyone, no matter their personality, age, or background, has an interesting one to share.
The first step to performing on stage is to play a part in a show yourself (surprise!). Look around and do some research to see if your town has a community theatre that puts on plays and musicals throughout the year, or perhaps even a youth theatre program just for kids and teens. Keep an eye out for a production you’d be interested in participating in, and when you do find something, make sure to read all the details, show dates, and requirements carefully before you sign up–like any other extracurricular, theatre can be quite a time commitment. In addition, most shows require you to audition before they cast you. All of the information, such as time, dates, and what to prepare for the audition should be provided ahead of time by the theatre. Though the process can seem scary at first, if you truly practice and prepare your scenes or songs before the audition, you should feel confident when you go in and give it your best shot. If you do end up getting cast in the show, fantastic! (Now the real work begins, but that’s for a later article.) If you don’t get cast this time, don’t give up! Work hard to be prepared for the next opportunity, or try your hand in the next area of involvement:
Theatre needs all kinds of people to put a show together besides actors, including sound designers, stage managers, sewers, lighting technicians, and more. Working behind the scenes is one of the most fun and fulfilling jobs in the performing arts. You get to create an entire world from scratch for both the actors and the audience to inhabit! And the best part is that in most cases, you don’t even need to have any previous training to volunteer. To get involved, simply email your local theatre and either offer your previously cultivated talents or just say that you’d love to help out in any way you can. In my experience, community theatres need and appreciate all the help they can get!
Tallulah Bankhead of early stage and screen fame put it best when she said, “If you really want to help the American theatre, don’t be an actor. Be an audience.” After all, without an audience there would be no reason to put on a show at all! Attempt to find the performance dates of your local community theatre productions, or attend a show put on by a high school drama group. This is an especially great option because you get the opportunity to support and meet other teens who love theatre just as much as you do.
Sometimes my favorite way to see a show is straight from the comfort of my own home. Instant-streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video often play host to a wide variety of classic movie musicals and plays, as well as some professional shows like Shrek the Musical and Newsies (both on Netflix, both highly recommended). Even television networks are jumping on the theatre wave, with PBS soon to air the recently filmed Broadway productions of She Loves Me, Holiday Inn, and Present Laughter as a part of their Best of Broadway series this fall. Another great way to see more contemporary theatre is through Fathom Events and National Theatre Live, entertainment associations that broadcast live and filmed theatre productions to movie theaters around the world. I was able to see National Theatre Live’s production of Hamlet this way last year, and it really brought my recent school studies on Shakespeare to life in incredible ways!
In the end, no matter how you decide to become involved in the theatrical world, I hope you will find all the joy and fulfillment I have been able to experience through the years. Ultimately, theatre isn’t just about a performance you give or a production you put on; rather, it’s about exemplifying the idea that with a group of people coming together from all different backgrounds and talents, you can create something that is nothing short of magical.
Have any cool theatre stories you’d like to share? I’d love to read them in the comments!