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Success on the Fly: Commitment

Posted: Wednesday, Nov 28th, 2012

Chris Waugh

I learned about commitment during my recent acting stint with the community theater. Even though my part wasn’t a major role, I decided to commit with a capital C. I was at every rehearsal. Most of the major players were committed. They were willing to come early, stay late, and work through a break (if we even got one.)

Some of the actors with smaller parts would skip rehearsals. They probably assumed since they knew their lines, they didn’t need the rehearsal. They didn’t see the effect their absence had on the entire cast and the rehearsal. Having a stand-in “read” their lines, or “say” their song wasn’t the same as having them there. It threw everyone off.

As opening night neared, and under the threat of failure and embarrassment, everyone redoubled their commitment. Extra rehearsals and music sessions with the orchestra were called. The orchestra fine-tuned the music, the beautiful sets were built, and the intricate costumes and wigs arrived.

The rehearsing and preparation is work. Performing for an audience is the reward.

During the run of the show, we scheduled a special afternoon performance for the fifth graders in Lincoln County. One of the lead actors fell ill and our director had to step into her difficult role. That performance was riddled with problems - lines were dropped, cues were missed and entire scenes were skipped. But we worked together. The show went on.

Afterward, we took Q&A from the students. One asked, “Does anything ever go wrong?” A snicker arose from the cast as someone admitted that, yes, things often go wrong. You just have to make it work.

How can you improve the commitment level in your team? Consider what I learned on stage:

• Discuss with the actors the importance of each role.

• Stress the inter-relationship of each role and the importance of everyone’s participation.

• Post the schedule, and give everyone a copy too.

• Follow-up with people that were late, or no-shows.

• Keep the troupe aware of the progress - let them see the sets, their costumes, etc.

• Encourage mutual support, applauds and laughter.

As the director of your troupe, you also give the actors an audience perspective. Tell them how their performance seems to an outsider, and how they can make it even better.

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