I did something I said I would never do again…theatre.

“But Stephanie”, you might say, “Didn’t you get a degree in Theatre?” Well the answer is yes, I’m still a strong believer that an actor needs to spend time on stage as this is the very root of acting. The skills you develop in memorization, blocking, projection (reaching that last person in the back row), rehearsing, and being on, live, where anything can happen and you have to deal with it, are traits that make you a stronger actor. There is the instant gratification: the applause, the standing ovations, the laughter and tears right in front of you at every performance. There have been stories of screen actors going to their first public appearance and being shocked that they had crowds of fans screaming their names, as they had been locked away in a sound stage for months before. There is also the ability to manipulate the performances; one of the New York actors in the role of the priest in “Doubt” said he fed off the energy of the audience and would adjust the idea of if his character was guilty or not based on what the audience was feeling on a given night. It also allows for an audience member to be able to see a show a second or third time and get a whole new experience.

Now here comes my big “But”… Theatre is TIME CONSUMING. In comparison, for a commercial you typically walk on set, do a quick blocking and start shooting; you could be looking at working at a day of work, two at the most, sometimes double or triple what you would make on the stage in under 24 hours. Films are knocked out in months (weeks in the case of movies like “Sharknato”) but a play takes months of rehearsals and then the weeks or months of the run of the show. It is a huge commitment…one I was trying to avoid.

So, why go back? Frankly, I was offered a role I couldn’t refuse: Miss Shields in the musical version of “A Christmas Story”; yes, I got to dust off my tap shoes and sing “You’ll shoot your eye out.” The nights were long with rehearsals, the choreography…exhausting, the errors and missed cues stop your heart, but man, there is nothing like singing your guts out to an audience that came to a little community theatre production and walked away amazed and entertained. Being part of a “family” of actors who work together for months is incredible, even the backstage crew are a huge part of what makes these shows work; everyone is essential and appreciated. There is nothing like the applause, the feeling of accomplishment, the end result of saying “I did it!”

Going back to your roots is a wonderful chance to relive some of your best and tiring parts of life. Maybe try dusting off something you haven’t picked up in a while and see if the thrill doesn’t come back. I “Double dog dare you!”

About the Author

Stephanie Herrera is a comedian, writer, producer, teacher, singer, actor, mother of 4, and shallow philosopher. She runs the Durham Improv & Acting Studio in Oshawa, Canada, is a professor at Durham and Fleming Colleges, and is an award winning performer.  www.durhamimprov.com / www.stephanieherrera.com / info@durhamimprov.com / (647) 899-3342  Durham Improv Group and Business pages can be found on Facebook and follow @durhamimprov & @antimommy