Certainly I am not the first person to consider that theatre is the actors medium, not film or TV. Fran Montano wrote about it in 2014, Kevin Spacey expressed it at a Bollywood panel, Rutger Hauer, and many more have states this thought before it even occurred to me. But as an aspiring actor it is something that has been gnawing at me more and more. My third year of graduate school we will be taking an “Acting for the camera” class and attempting to put together a basic reel that I will be posting on this website as well as submitting to agents in hopes of getting film auditions. It is important to note that film (including commercials) can obviously be lucrative. A single national commercial can net an actor a years worth of income in a matter of days. Additionally you could find yourself in the position of someone like Stephanie Courtney, better known to most of us as Flo from Progressive. She is fiscally set for the rest of her life. But she didn’t go to LA to become the face of an insurance company. Stephanie worked her tail off and was a company member for The Groundlings out in LA because she was and is an actor. She performed frequently and wrote often to hone her comedic and performative skills, giving herself the tools necessary to walk into an audition room and become the character known as Flo.
This is where I currently train, The Hilberry Theatre in Detroit, MI. I got my BFA from CU Boulder and then spent 5 years in Chicago doing store front theatre all over the city as well as a touring production that went around the state of Illinois. I turned 30 this summer and at this point I am 12 years into this profession.
The theatrical stage is where the Trade of acting is actually practiced. Not in front of a camera. Good editing and cinematography, along with some nice underscoring and foley work, can make a mediocre actor look fantastic. On the flip side those departments can also ruin good acting. Great film requires many masters in many different fields to come together and collaborate on a single artistic vision, the acting is just one part of that. The stage, especially if we are talking about minimalistic design elements, is where you can see someone truly Act. Add back in masters of light, sound, costume and staging and the theatre can be a place that is more powerful than the cinema. It’s just damn hard to pay the bills. So go to the theatre, watch someone working on their trade and recognize that they do this for well over 40 hours a week and for very little financial compensation. Especially in smaller theatre spaces. In my last post I talked about how Concert’s Are Kicking Theatre’s Ass and I think that one aspect of the live concert that people enjoy is the fact that even though this music is recorded and I may own the album, or even just the one hit wonder, the live performance of the song that I am seeing right now is unique and will never be the same again. That is something that Theatre needs to embrace and lean into in my opinion. Hamlet will be performed for another 100 years, but tonights performance is perfectly unique. Did you see it, or did you watch a movie that you’ll be able to watch any other night? So go see a show, if you’re lucky you’ll see a master before everyone else. And for my own selfish interests, come see a show at the Hilberry.