Thatz Showbiz is unique because the curriculum ensures that our students learn what it means to work as a performer in a professional setting. In a three week session students will not just broaden the scope of their acting, dance, and vocal technique, but they will learn how to use those techniques to better themselves professionally – how to properly warm up the body and the voice, how to take a director’s note and apply it practically, how to break a script down for analysis, etc… The hope for the students of Thatz Showbiz is that they become actors that are both passionate and level-headed. This balance is incredibly important because a performer who has passion but no practicality will surely burn themselves out.
Passion is important, it is what drives a performer’s imagination and leads them to make interesting choices on stage; the imagination is what keeps an actor engaged with their scene partners, it is what makes them exciting to watch. A quality performer will have passion in abundance but will be able to temper it with a level-head. A quality actor will say “Alright. My passion and excitement has led me to have a few really good options for my character, but now I need to sit back and pick one.” Too much passion without enough practicality, though usually well-intended, will make an actor selfish and hard to work with as they will be unpredictable – a quality that we at Thatz Showbiz have deemed ‘I’m the Star Syndrome’. This actor will think only of what they want to do at any given time and not what the rest of the creative team needs them to do; performance is a lot of fun, but it is also a job and needs to be treated with respect.
I believe that the first step towards becoming a more level-headed actor is to understand that:
Other people are just as important as me!
In order to create a show there are A LOT of people that need to put in A LOT of time and work. Before performers are even cast there is a Writer who has likely written something that is important to them; the performers will be speaking this person’s words (not to mention singing the music and lyrics of a Composer and a Lyricist if the show is musical). A Director is chosen, it is this person’s job to envision the ENTIRE show, in which the performer is just a small part. Then there is a Technical Director who will manage all technical aspects including dealing with teams for Lighting, Sound, Set, Costumes… etc… Then there is a Stage Manager who will be in charge of scheduling and who will end up effectively running the show. There are countless others who are hard at work designing and creating before the performers even walk in the door. What is unfortunate too is that the performers (though very deserving) will often receive credit for the show as a whole, as if they did all the work. Audiences are always excited to stand by the stage door and meet performers, but seldom do they wait for the Dresser to come outside.
I am not by any means implying that performing is an easy job, because it isn’t. Performers often work lots of hours for less pay than they deserve. What I am saying though is that, at the end of the day, the performers are the ones in the spotlight and the least they could do is acknowledge and be respectful of the creative team that put them there. It is the Make-Up Artist that made you look like a zombie so you could play Lurch, it is the Costume Designer who put you in your Technicolor Dreamcoat, and it is the Lighting Operator that will turn the lights out on you if you are disrespectful to them. Right Michael Daneluzzi?
Performing is one of the best jobs ever, you get to play around (and, if you work hard, you’ll get paid for it!) But don’t let your passion and excitement override your professionalism. Show some respect for your team, they’ve been working just as hard as you have and, though they aren’t on stage, it is just as much their show as yours… maybe even more!
Blog post by Assistant Director Hayden Finkelshtain. Hayden has been teaching at Thatz Showbiz since its conception. He comes to the company with training from the prestigious Ryerson University Theatre Program and a diverse background in many forms of theatre, film and voice work.