Jul 24

Firsts in Theatre – Onstage and Off

By Sami DeSocio

As an actor, you have to be prepared to be asked to do anything! There are going to be times in theater and even in movies, where you are asked to do something that you’ve either never done onstage before, or have never done– period. I’ve had this happen to me twice already in my career, and am actually in the middle of my second experience with it right now. How do you handle these firsts, and still have a good time and do your job as an actor?

First and foremost, the best thing you can do for yourself and your fellow cast is to relax! This might be a first experience for you, but I can almost guarantee that someone in the cast has done it before and if you trust them, then they can help you through it! Remember, nobody in the cast wants to see you fail, and if you need something you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help.

When I was in Into the Woods, I had to fall into a fellow cast member when I died as Jack’s mom, and allow two others to pick up the bottom half of me and trust all three of them to carry my ‘body’ offstage. As we were doing this for the first time, they noticed I kept getting stiff as my lower body just wanted to stay on the ground and my brain wouldn’t let them pick me up. It wasn’t until one of them turned to me (after figuring out I had never done this before) and told me that they wouldn’t let me fall, and if he thought I was going to, would hoist me over his shoulder and carry me offstage himself! Well how could I not trust these guys after that kind of an offer? The more we practiced after that, and the more I trusted them, the better the fall became, and after a while they were able to play off carrying me offstage, as much as I was able to play off my death.

The hardest thing to ‘act’ either onstage or in movies is love. Having to kiss someone with a lot of people watching can be a bit nerve wracking! Especially if you have no experience in that area in real-life. How are you expected to do that onstage convincingly? I’ll be the first to tell you that a stage kiss, and a real kiss are two different things. A stage kiss is really very mechanical and very thought out and not at all romantic (unless you happen to get together with that person—Ah, showmance!).

As long as you aren’t being asked to do something that could hurt you physically or anything like that, just trust what you need to do and go for it! You might find out you like it, and not be able to wait to do it again! Trust your cast, and they will trust you and will make your first time doing something the best experience it can be!

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