Now that vaccinations are starting to roll out, we’re all starting to believe live theater really will return! And while it may be a while before things are totally back to normal, that makes these next few months a perfect opportunity to get yourself as well-prepared as possible for when auditions and productions resume.
We may have spent our downtime mostly binge-watching The Great British Baking Show or learning to knit, but many of us also used the extra free time to tackle house projects like cleaning out closets or reorganizing our pantries. You can look at your acting career the same way – combine some ‘housekeeping’ tasks with learning new skills (and a bit of productive binge-watching, too!)
Update Your Resume
Theaters are likely to ease back in gradually, which will probably mean virtual submissions to begin with. This makes your resume your most important ‘calling card’. Make sure it’s organized, legible, and contains all the important information (there are tons of good tips online). And this might be a good chance to get rid of a few older credits, to make room for all those new skills you’ve learned, or for some of the creative performances you’ve done during lockdown. (See below for more on that idea!)
Update Your Headshot
It may not be possible to work with a photographer (depending on where you are), but honestly most smartphone cameras are so good these days, there are lots of ways to get a good, recent photo. And in any case, make sure you have some physical copies as well as good high resolution digital versions, so you’re ready to submit as soon as anything comes up.
Organize Your Audition Wardrobe
Since we’ve all been living in sweats and pj’s, make sure your favorite audition outfits still fit! (And if you’re like me and haven’t worn dress shoes in a year, it’s a good idea to start practicing in them.) It’s a good time to try on different combinations, to see what looks good on you. (Again, there is a lot of online information about how to dress for auditions.
My general advice is to look professional, in a way that helps the director see you in the character you’re auditioning for; to wear something that flatters you without being more interesting than you are, so avoid loud prints or busy details; and something that makes you feel confident and attractive.)
Work on Your Technique
Even if in-person lessons aren’t an option (because of your own health concerns or because of local restrictions), there are lots of ways to take acting, voice, and even dance online. (Take Lessons was already on top of virtual studying – they have everything you can imagine!) And make sure you practice – I’ve taken to ‘bribing’ myself, where I make sure I do my practicing (and get my walk in) before I can watch whatever series I’m obsessed with.
Add a ‘Special Skill’
Resumes usually have a spot at the bottom for ‘special skills’. This isn’t intended as a place to brag about your knitting ability or to impress the director with your cooking skills – you want to list anything interesting and unusual that might become relevant to casting.
It might not be possible to develop gymnastics skills that a choreographer would be seeking, but many plays require actors to use dialects, to play unusual instruments, or to do things like fencing. Think of the kinds of plays you’d like to do and the ‘special skills’ they might require, many of which can be learned via YouTube or other videos, and could be fun to learn, like juggling or an upper-crust British accent (known formally as RP, or ‘received pronunciation’).
In a previous blog post, I wrote about ways you can create your own independent virtual performances, filming songs or monologues and posting them online. Not only is this a great way to keep your skills sharp, you can also build a portfolio of virtual performances that could be combined in a demo reel.
Learn New Material
This is a great time to find, learn, and polish new songs and monologues, both to work on strengthening your skills, and to add to your repertoire.
Binge-Watching (or Something That’s Almost as Fun)
We all learn from watching experts in our field, and thanks to the internet you can see performances of just about any actor, singer, or dancer you admire. But don’t just watch them in awestruck reverence – give yourself your own ‘master class’, analyzing what your role models are doing, why it works, and how you can emulate them.
And yes, now you can reward yourself by binge-watching fun series – but even while you’re enjoying yourself, you can learn and develop your skills, whether you’re singing along with the musical numbers on My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, figuring out how the lead actress in Queen’s Gambit uses her eyes so expressively, or practicing your RP while you talk back to characters on The Crown.
Using these tips will not only help pass the time, they’ll help you be fully ready the minute that first audition note goes up!