by Mac Welch
Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce you to Mac Welch, the assistant director for The Manufactured Myth of Eveline Flynn and our very first STUDENT contributor on T3Writes! Mac came to me wanting to spread a little insight to other soon-to-be theatre professionals and I was happy to let him so long as he agreed to write me a follow up after college.
And he did. In an email. So, now I have a paper trail and he’s trapped! 😊
In comparison to all of the other blogs posted on this website, I felt a little overwhelmed at first to be writing next to all of these spectacular professional theatre makers in Dallas. Or at least I did feel this way, until I remembered that I have been involved in professional theatre for quite awhile now and I have a bit of advice for navigating some of the most convoluted, tricky, ever-changing things known to mankind: getting started in theatre and college theatre. These two things are so gray and difficult, but they are inevitably things that everyone in the theatre world has to overcome. So here is the advice I can give from me (a Junior director at SMU and assistant director) and everyone I’ve met that is experiencing the same stuff in this recent and upcoming era of theatre makers…
Actually, let me start with the little info I can give on college. College is only a big gray area because there’s the consistent doubting of the legitimacy of the degree. For anyone that is wondering whether college is worth it or not: college is absolutely worth it. It gives you a proving ground that is necessary for growth, it gives you connections and opportunities from so many other artists and professors, and an overwhelming majority of the professionals I’ve personally met have been college educated (whether undergraduate or graduate degrees). Making theatre is the same as getting a degree in business; of course, you could start a business without a degree, but you would benefit massively by being taught how to actually do the thing. I can say with utmost confidence and pride that every job involving directing that I’ve gotten professionally has been found through school.
I could also write a full thesis on the college audition process because it is so hard to navigate, but that is a blog for another day. Basically, know that you are the customer that is to be served, and MOST IMPORTANTLY know why you want to go to school and go for that reason. If you want an education, find the teachers you trust. If you want a career elevation, find a scholarship to a small program in a big market and start auditioning. If you don’t have a reason specifically, then just save the money and don’t go. Either way, if you’re honest, you’ll end up where you need to be.
NOW… The meat of the piece…
The secret to a successful career in theatre…
People. That’s it. People. People get you parts, people act in your shows, people give you money, people see your work. You need to be able to talk to people to get anywhere, and I don’t mean kissing up! Just get to know as many different people as possible from as many different places as you can find. Every gig that you think is crappy is actually worth it, because you never know who will be working for whatever at the theatre that may employ you. It is most important to make the art you want to make and in the best way possible, but quoting Shakespeare isn’t going to give you the credibility to make your art. It is the connections you make along the way.
And if you don’t trust me, trust other artists from Dallas and New York that are successfully breaking into their own industries like film, voice over, musical theatre, and straight plays. I just asked them to give one piece of advice each for young artists, and this is it:
“Don’t be afraid to send follow-up emails! You are not being pushy; everyone understands, and they do it too.” – Neil Redfield (professional actor in the New York and Dallas areas)
“Making an impression on your first audition, because even if you’re not right for the season that they’re casting now, they will remember you for things in the future.” – Aaron Campbell (professional voice actor with Funimation in Dallas)
“It’s one thing to be in the right place at the right time but learning how to be constantly prepared for opportunity is something I have been working on.” – Amber Rossi (professional actor consistently and currently working at the Dallas Theater Center and Junior Acting Major at SMU)
So, whether you are currently trying to plan your future or already in the thick of it, meet everyone and make friends. I have met and/or worked with actors, directors, writers, designers, and producers from all over the world and this is the main thing that is always true: everyone in the theatre industry that is a true professional is kind and open because they know how hard it is. Yes, theatre is competitive, but the real pros know that there is no point in being rude if we all keep the goal in mind: make the world a better place. Keep grinding and take every opportunity you can with a smile, you are doing what you love after all. I’m not the most seasoned theatre maker in the world, but this is the advice I can give you with every bit of confidence. Take it or leave it, but I swear that you will find this to be true.
The Manufactured Myth of Eveline Flynn | January 31 – February 24
Music and Lyrics by Ian Ferguson • Book by Michael Federico • Directed by Kara-Lynn Vaeni • Musical Direction by Vonda K. Bowling