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An artist speaks: 10 things I learned from performing on stage

After 10 years of acting experience in Theater and Movies, I am happy to share with you my thoughts on what are the top 10 things I learned from performing on Stage:


1. Self-Discipline Theatre demands that you learn how to control your life. More than other students, you are forced to make choices between keeping up with responsibilities and doing things you'd rather do. You learn to govern yourself. An employer will respect that ability.

2. Self-Confidence Theatre training teaches you confidence in yourself. Your accomplishments in theatre show you that you can handle a variety of jobs, pressures, difficulties and responsibilities. You develop a "Yes, I can!" attitude. Of course an employer will treasure that.

3. Adaptability and Flexibility Theatre students must be adaptable and flexible. You need to be willing to try new ideas, accept new challenges, and have the ability to adapt to constantly changing situations and conditions. In one production you may be a member of the prop crew; in the next perhaps you're in charge of makeup, publicity or the box office; in a third production you might have a leading role. A worker who is versatile and flexible is highly valued to most employers; both traits prove that you are able and willing to learn new things.

4. Acceptance of Disappointment--And Ability to Bounce Back Theatre people learn to deal with dashed hopes and rejection on a regular basis. Who hasn't failed to get a role he or she really wanted or a coveted spot on a tech crew? You learn to accept that kind of disappointment and move on. You try again. Employers need workers who are resilient enough to bounce back from this kind of frustration.

5. Oral Communication Skills Many students find that theatre helps them develop the confidence that's essential to speaking clearly, lucidly, and thoughtfully. Acting onstage teaches you how to be comfortable speaking in front of large audiences, and some of your theatre classes will give you additional experience talking to groups. Furthermore, your work on crews has taught you that clear, precise, and well-organized oral communications are best. Oral communication skills are so important to some employers that they often send management trainees to special workshops. You already have an advantage.

6. Motivation and Commitment Being involved in theatre productions and classes demands commitment and motivation. These are qualities that college theatre faculty members and, in some measure, you and your fellow students, probably already possess. By example, we teach each other that success comes to those who are committed to the task at hand. Few other disciplines you study will so strongly help you develop motivation and commitment. Many theatre students learn to transfer that attribute from theatre to other activities such as classes and jobs. For employers, that positive attitude is essential.

7. Willingness to Work Cooperatively Your work in theatre companies teaches you how to work effectively with different types of people--often very different types! Theatre demands that participants work together cooperatively for the production to success; there is no room for "we" versus "they" behavior; the "star" diva is a thing of the past. Your colleagues will usually let you know when you violate the team spirit of a production. In theatre, it's important that each individual supports the others involved. Employers will be pleased to know that you understand how to be a team player.

8. The Ability to Work Under Pressure Theatre work often demands long hours. There's pressure--often, as you know well, a lot of pressure. It's important that everyone involved with a production be able to maintain a cooperative and enthusiastic attitude under pressure. The ability to remain poised under such tensions in an asset that will help you cope with stress in other parts of your life, including your job.

9. Initiative Personnel managers call people who approach work with initiative and enterprise "self-starters," people who do what needs to be done without waiting to be asked, without needing to be told. The complexities of a theatrical production demand individuals who are willing to voluntarily undertake any task that needs to be done in order for the production to succeed. In theatre, we're all self-starters. We learn how to take initiative, to move a project from initial concept to finality--and to do it well.

10. Promptness and Respect for Deadlines Tardiness is never acceptable in theatre because it shows a lack of self-discipline, and more importantly, a lack of consideration for others. Being late for a rehearsal or a work call or failing to finish an assigned task on time damages a production and adversely affects the work of many other people. Theatre demands that you learn to arrive on time and meet scheduled deadlines. That's a job-skill. Employers appreciate workers who are on time and do their work as scheduled.

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