Written by 6:50 pm fullerton, News, Press Releases, Theater



Written by Scotty Keister

“HOW DO I GET INTO THEATER?” is a question I get asked frequently. There are actors far more experienced than me to answer that. I’ve been doing theater in OC, mostly in Fullerton, for only about eleven years now. Still, I’m willing to share my thoughts on the subject with any newbies.

First, you need to have a passion for doing theater. If you don’t, if it’s just a passing fancy or vague curiosity, you’ll probably lose interest quickly. It’s a huge sacrifice of your time and social life. So, if you don’t really love the process, it won’t pay off for you. Remember, you’re giving up your weeknights for three to five weeks to rehearse. Afterward, when the show opens, you’re giving up anywhere from two to ten weeks’ worth of weekends for performances. And this is without getting paid a cent.

Your only reward is a round of applause, which you will hopefully receive. Still, most people aren’t willing to make the sacrifices. But if you are, then by all means proceed. It’s enormously rewarding, not just for the thrill of being on stage before an audience but also for developing your craft and for what you could learn about yourself.

The starting point for most people will be auditioning. Audition as much as possible. Thanks to Facebook, this is much easier now than it was ten years ago. There are several open groups you can join where every audition in OC and Long Beach is posted: So Cal Theatre News and The Green Room, for starters. They generally give you all the necessary information to show up and take your shot. You may need a headshot and a resume.

If you don’t have headshots, get a friend to take a clear photo of you and get some printed out at 8 x 10 at Office Depot or any other store offering the service. If you’re new to the scene, chances are you may not get cast right away. Many directors are hesitant to cast people they don’t know. Having a decent resume helps, but it can still be tough. If you’re new to acting or theater or just new to the area, there are other ways to get your foot in the door.

Theater is like any other profession (even though it’s a volunteer profession most of the time); it’s based on relationships. The more people like you, the more likely they’ll want to have you in their theater. Go see a lot of shows in your area. Find a theater you like. Hang out after the shows and meet the actors. Simply congratulating them and introducing yourself is a good start. If you can meet the director, that’s even better. Volunteer at the theater as an usher, box office, concessions, house manager, or anything else they need just to get to know the people and allow them to get to know you.

Most theater websites list who to contact if you want to volunteer your time. They all need volunteers, so chances are they will be happy to indulge you. This way, you can see shows for free as well — always a nice perk. Now, when you show up at auditions, they already know you. Whether you get cast or not, you should still volunteer: help with building sets, painting, striking, cleaning up, costuming, makeup, or whatever you’re good at.

If you’re willing to put in time, they will love you and be happy to ask you back. Many times, a good attitude will win out over acting skills. I know talented actors with bad attitudes nobody wants to work with, so be a good person while developing your talents. And here’s a really important point: if you get cast, show up ON TIME for rehearsals. Nothing’s going to turn a director against you faster than repeated tardiness.

I started when someone I worked with, a choreographer with the Hunger Artists Theatre Company, mentioned they were looking for a bass player for Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I’d been playing bass for twenty years, and I’d just seen the film Hedwig and loved it. I hadn’t done any theater for twenty-five years but had been thinking about it, and I’d seen a show or two at Hunger Artists, so I immediately volunteered. I got cast because I could play bass, and I learned the songs quickly. Then I asked if there were any parts open in their next production, the Guignol Halloween show. It just so happened they had a role or two left to fill, so they gave me a shot.

After that, I was asked to play a minor part in their next show because I was the right age. I ended up doing something like six shows in a row there. I was a company member for the next five years before I even worked anywhere else. Then, after being rejected for three auditions in a row, another work friend mentioned the Maverick Theater was looking for someone my age for a role. I called the director and went in to read. I got cast as Long John Silver in Treasure Island — a dream come true. I’ve been working there continually for the past seven years. Sometimes, it’s all a happy accident.

So leave yourself open to chance and put yourself out there. There are dozens of theaters holding auditions all the time. Someone wants you onstage!

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Tags: , , , , , , , Last modified: December 21, 2023