How To Become A Community Theater Actor

There's a little bit of the actor in most of us. If you want a chance to perform on stage, these tips may help.

Remember playing dress-up as a child? Borrowing Mom's long skirts or Dad's tie, you pretended to be a lawyer or doctor, a child imagining the unimaginable.

Then in your adolescent and teen years, you assumed the role of being smarter, funnier, or tougher than you really were, generally in a role that was calculated to impress the opposite sex. Attracting a dating partner, you eventually married. When the storms came and danger threatened, you put on a face of strength and courage to reassure your spouse or the children.

Although life provides unique opportunities like these for us to take roles that are quite different from our everyday lives, many of us have never played a part on a public stage. Some of us have watched or even written plays. Perhaps we performed in the school play. But what would it take to audition for a community drama?



It's not as hard as you may think. Here are a few tips that can help you reach your dream, no matter your age or role in life:

1. Put together a skit or act. You may want to write a one-act play for your church or the children's school. Perhaps it's a character monolog for a famous historical figure. It may be a spoof of a well-known contemporary person. Try writing a short piece and then practice saying it in front of the mirror or using a tape recorder. As you improve facial expressions, body language, and voice inflections, you may get to the point where you are ready for an audience. If you don't want to write something, borrow an existing selection from the library or buy a short script from the bookstore or online.

2. Take your show to the road. Volunteer to present it in church, at school, or for a library readers' group. Civic groups may wish to enjoy your piece during a lunch program. Getting experience over a few months' time and adding performance credits to your resume may help to open doors on the public stage.

3. Start a church or civic actors' guilt. It need not be large, formal, expensive, or time-consuming. Organize a handful of people who enjoy creative arts and practice a skit for the above-named groups. See if you can get a local community actor to work with you or at least to provide suggestions or tips.

4. Take an acting class (or two). Many community colleges or theater groups offer acting classes, workshops, or seminars. You can also search for local groups or regional conventions on the Web. Attend conferences to meet amateur actors and producers who can steer you in the right direction.

5. Get involved. Take part in a school or church play, even if your "role" is as a stage hand. Learn the ins and outs of drama performance. Attend several performances and study the craft. Get a script and practice reading to compare your rendition with those heard on the stage. The more experience you get and people you know, the better your chances of getting recognized and tapping into acting opportunities.

6. Give it a try. Go to a tryout, or audition, and see what happens. If you don't get the first role you attempt, go for others. Even a walk on actor gets a resume credit and stage experience. The more you work at it, the better you'll get. Study stagecraft, acting, costumes, and props as a hobby until you become something of an expert.

If you've always wanted to be Cleopatra, start as her serving girl. Looking to play Napoleon? Become his messenger first. Everyone has to start somewhere, so get going in the right direction so that you can follow your dream.

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