Monday, September 18, 2006

14 Artistic Networking Skills

Jim Volz wrote a book entitled How to Run a Theater: A Witty, Practical and Fun Guide to Arts Management and included a list of Fourteen Artistic Networking Survival Skills for Theatre Professionals Young and Old.

We're all learning. We've all learned. This list is a great reminder for all of us swimming through the waters of our competitive art form in this competitive town. I read a blog today about building relationships in theatre and that a theatre professional shouldn't ever consider themselved "hired" until they're involved in a second show with a theatre company they're working with. I know that's very true on the GreyZelda end and we expect our actors, members and crew to follow these guidelines to help make the show and experience the best it can be.

"Introduction: Most directors, choreographers, designers, artistic directors, general managers, and other arts executives rise up through the ranks. Many remember the lessons learned on the way up the ladder, but it never hurts to hear from the front lines. 'He that won't be counseled can't be helped,' observed Ben Franklin. When a group of Equity and non-Equity actors gathered in Southern California, in the spirit of 'counseling and sharing,' they traded tips on surviving the highly competitve and financially perilous profession of theatre. This generally wise and sometimes wacky list of fourteen tips comprises:

1. Believe in instant karma.
What goes around will come around. Treat others exactly as you would like to be treated. Be kind and courteous. The tech person you step on today could be your producer or director tomorrow.

2. Avoid people who suck energy.
These people only give you permission to procrastinate. You are not the person who is losing if you miss a few social gatherings in order to work.

3. To read or not to read?
That is the question. The only answer? Read as many plays as possible. Be familiar with all types of writing. The more familiar you are with a play, the better your audition will be.

4. Leave your worries at the door!
Remember, the people you work with are not your therapists. Don't be so wrapped up in your personal problems that you let your frustrations impact your work.

5. Who died and made you king?
Nobody likes to hear a scolding "shhhh!" from another actor. Let adminishing the parties involved be handled by the stage manager or director. If they aren't present, remember that you catch more flies with honey, and be diplomatic.

6. Who died and made you Elia Kazan?
Never, ever, ever, ever, ever direct another actor in your show.

7. Respect the clock.
Be on time. Punctuality shows that you respect and value a person's time. Being late is rude. Show up ready to work.

8. Include time for yourself every day.
Treat yourself to a walk, a trip to the local nursery or a hot bath - you know, experience one of those International Coffee moments that can change your life.

9. 'We'll always have Utah.'
Falling for someone you work with intimately and for such a long time may be inevitable, especially in the veil of drama and 'make believe.' But rarely do these romances go beyond the run of the show.

10. Be kind to your dressers.
Actors need to worship costume designers, staff, and dressers. They make or break how you look every day on stage.

11. Make Makita a part of your method.
Offer to help with strike. Be a good sport. You will be remembered for being the kind of person you are to work with, not for the believability of your page twenty-six speech on Thursday night.

12. Know thyself.
Avoid making life-changing decisions under stress, pressure, or on the spot. Make your decisions on your own time. Be clear in your own mind about what you want and what your willing to do to get it - before you go in!

13. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
Go beyond basic preparation of the required or expected workload. Anticipate possible negative outcomes and have contigency plans.

14. Build support . . . six degrees of separation.
You can never know too many people. You can never be nice enough to people. You may be surprised at the small world of professional theatre."

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