I just returned from the Virginia Theatre Association’s annual conference in Norfolk, VA. It was exhilarating and I am very excited to share my experience with you.
While I was at conference, I met many interested high schoolers who are eager to get involved with SPARC. One high schooler was so thrilled about our SPARC classes, he committed to driving from Charlottesville to Richmond in order to take advantage of the fantastic, professional classes we offer. I am hopeful that we will see many of these high schoolers in both our Spring classes and Summer camps.
One of the highlights of the conference was attending the questions and answer session with Tommy Bracco (Newsies) and Mike Faist (Dear Evan Hansen). Both artists were very candid and honest with the aspiring actors in attendance. They both reiterated how difficult it can be to break into this business we call theatre. The attendees were not discouraged, and listened with excitement as Tommy and Mike shared their invaluable advice on how to successfully manage a career in theatre. They highlighted these points:
- You need to take time to perfect your acting technique. Both Tommy and Miked stressed that you must take time to master and perfect your individual skills. Whether it is through acting classes or working with a professional acting coach, you must work diligently to perfect your acting. You must master your individual technique to be successful professional actor – this takes time, energy, determination, and endless work.
- Because theatre is a demanding profession, it’s essential that you first take care of yourself both mentally and physically. Tommy suggested having a gratitude journal and writing down the positive moments that you experience each day. He mentioned how his gratitude journal really helps him stay positive and motivated. Oprah is known to be a big fan of the gratitude journal, and she often raves how it has truly helped her through difficult times.
- Make sure you always hit the “signature moment” (or “the button” as Tommy calls it) of any number you perform. Tommy further explained, “even if you mess up, as long as you continue to pull through and hit “the button,” often your audience will be unaware you made an earlier mistake. “
- This business of theatre is often a roller coaster. You must learn to appreciate both the highs and the lows. Tommy advised, “You must stay positive even when things are dismal, because the low moments can be frequent, and you will need a positive attitude to get through them.” He advised, “Do not let the lows swallow you!”
- You must really, really love acting if you want to make a career out of it. Both Tommy and Mike stressed that it is their “love of performing” that continually persuades and motivates them to work through anything, and explains why they both have persevered.
Before this session ended, and the hundreds of high school thespians headed off to yet another workshop, Tommy stressed, “ Success is not defined by being on Broadway!” He explained, you can still have a successful career in theatre and never make it to Broadway. Tommy mentioned that although he has performed successfully on Broadway for many years, he currently is performing and working in local theatre. He considers this success. He is content, happy, and successful, because he is continuing to doing what he loves, which is acting and working in theatre. I think this was really important for the aspiring performers to hear because not everyone will get to Broadway and that is ok. I wish all striving young actors could hear Tommy’s wise words. Once an ambitious actor realizes that they do not have to be on Broadway to be defined as “successful in theatre,” they can spend more time focusing and enhancing their craft and enjoying their individual successes.
After the session ended, I had the privilege of meeting both Tommy and Mike. Both of these incredibly talented individuals were so kind and gracious. The brief “meet and greet” was an enlightening experience and one I will never forget. Not sure if my feet have yet to touch the ground.
I loved attending VTA’s conference. Being able to represent SPARC at this conference was truly rewarding. I loved witnessing first-hand the impact VTA’s workshops have on the theatre community. I am very thankful for this opportunity.
Until next time,