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OR now that the show’s done, where do i put my feelings?

By Christie Vela

I don’t like talk-backs. I should amend that. I don’t like staying after the last show of the week, when I am exhausted and really want to go home, relax and watch my stories just to answer the inevitable “How did you learn all those lines” question. That’s like staying after your root-canal to ask your dentist how they knew which tooth to work on. They better know which tooth! It’s the very least thing to expect from your dentist, and it’s the same with your local actor. You paid for your ticket! We should know our lines! I do, however, enjoy having fun conversations with our audiences about the work we do on stage.  So, here goes, I am going to answer the HOW DID YOU LEARN ALL THOSE LINES question for all my fellow actors from here to the end of time: Learning lines is the least of our worries as actors. Some of us have photographic memories. Not only do those, usually young and spry actors learn their own lines, but they learn everyone else’s. I used to be this obnoxious creature in my youth. When I had a young brain. Others of us must train our brains to learn lines. But like any other muscle memory situation, the more you do it, the easier it is to do it the next time. Every actor develops their own tricks as they go and then one day, you put your book down and ‘et voila’ you know your lines. I am at an age where I hope for a role with few impactful lines and some great down-time in the greenroom, OR I use a handy-dandy line-learning app on my phone when the line-load is heavier. I listen to it in my car every day on my way to and from life and hope for the best. Okay? Never ask me this question again.

BECAUSE this blog entry is not about learning lines, it’s about having fun, productive TALK BACKS.  A little context: here at T3, we’ve been doing talk-backs after our Sunday matinee performances for so many years that we finally decided to give the talk-back a name instead of just saying, ‘Hey talkback, get over here’ or ‘there goes talk-back again being talky’. We also decided to re-name it because ‘talk-back’ sounds like something I used to get in trouble with my mother over, and we don’t want anyone to feel like they’re in trouble at these things. We strive for our audiences to feel safe and comfortable about expressing their views. Historically, talk-backs have been hosted by a cast member, a director or a staff-member. Some of you may remember local actor and T3 regular Cindee Mayfield hosted all our talk-backs for a few seasons whether she was in the show or not. These days we have a cast member to facilitate them, and part of my job has been to help guide the actors towards fruitful conversations with the audience. Oh, the name! T3 Talks is what we’re now calling these ‘intimate and brief post show conversations with cast and audience’. Branding baby.

One thing I’ve noticed about our T3 Talks (and every other theatre over the years where I’ve been at the helm of the TALK BACK) is no matter how much I prep the actor to go out there and be as engaging as possible after they’ve acted their behinds off and are probably very sweaty, the audiences all initially behave in the same way. It doesn’t matter if the show is an exciting musical, a gut-wrenching drama, a hilarious farce, audiences are always hesitant to start. And I get it! You just sat through what we can only hope was a heart-wrenching experience, and you might need a minute. You are still processing! So it finally dawned on me, “Vela, you’ve taken the time to guide the actor, but you’ve never guided the audience”. This is my attempt to do just that.

Playwright David Mamet has a clause in all of his contracts which specifies that all talk-backs for his shows are to happen one hour after the performance at a nearby bar. While I don’t agree with most of David Mamet’s personal ideology, I do agree with him on this. Conversations are better when you’ve had time to think and have drink in your hand. Maybe when the rest of the QUAD opens, we can have talkbacks at a nearby bar. BUT FIRST THINGS FIRST! So many of our patrons have stayed on those Sunday afternoons to share/gain insight so we’re going to continue to do the best we can at least until a bar opens 20 feet away from our front door.

So here are 10 pro-tips from an ole’ talk-back expert (ME) to help make T3 Talks interesting and fun for YOU. Because you’re why we do it.


  1. DO talk about whatever it is that resonated with you about the play/musical. Plays/musicals are a subjective experience. Whatever you responded to during the show, be it a particular line, a theme, a whole scene, a costume, the set, a musical motif, a sound, IT IS RELEVANT. Chances are that a lot of thought went into whatever it is that jumped out at you and we’re dying to talk about it.
  2. BE the first person to say something in the room. Sometimes we think we don’t know enough about the play or how plays work to comment on it. You are a person who lives in the world; things happen to you, and you respond to them. That’s all you need to know; your comment is not dumb or irrelevant.
  3. OFFER a different perspective about something another audience-member comments about. You are not wrong to feel differently about it. And they’re not wrong either.
  4. THERE ARE NO WRONG RESPONSES. A good play/performance will elicit a variety of strong responses. If something made you or another audience member uncomfortable or upset, it’s okay to talk about that too. (Disclaimer; we are not licensed therapists, though)
  5. DO ask about the technical elements in the show! We’re happy to tell you the secret, just don’t ruin it for people who haven’t seen the show!
  6. ALLOW others to join the conversation! (this is a nice way of saying, don’t hog all the time)
  7. REMEMBER, No one is grading you! It’s not a test! It’s a conversation, have fun.
  8. If you find that something made you really angry, keep in mind for your own protection that a talk-back may not the best place to express that anger. Maybe it’s better to go away and process fully before lashing out. This may seem like a ridiculous tip to include, but I have had experiences where I really thought I was going to be physically attacked or a conversation could not happen because one person was so upset. Don’t be that person. <3
  9. Ask the actors questions about their choices as actors, or choices about blocking. Ask them what delights them about doing the play/musical.
  10. DON’T ask how they learned their lines. Because I already told you.


That’s it. I hope this is helpful. If you have any questions or comments for me about this blog entry or T3 TALKS in general, please feel free to contact me at I am happy to continue the conversation.