Theatre: Training for Life

Several people have expressed interest in hearing more about my life in theatre, so here is a beginning. Being involved with theatre for more than 30 years has affected my life in too many ways to be the subject of one blog post. In many ways, theatre training and production has actually been my training for life.

Over the years, rehearsal and performance of plays has given me:

At the Gaudi Cathedral in Barcelona, revealing my inner contemplative.

  • Self-Awareness. Many roles taught me something about myself or gave me an opportunity to stretch out of my comfort zones and experiment with other ways I could choose to live. Finding similarities and differences between myself and the characters I played enabled me to explore who I am and what makes me unique.
  • Awareness of Other Perspectives. Playing characters who differed from me pushed me to develop a bodily understanding of the reality that the world looks different from other people’s perspectives.
  • Community. Everywhere I go, there is a theatre company that benefits from my involvement. When I move, the local theatre community is usually where I make my first, and often my closest, friends.

    As a Kit Kat Girl in "Cabaret" - finding my burlesque.

  • A Reason to Work Hard. School never challenged me. I got through my entire education by handing in something for each assignment and showing up for classes and exams. Theatre challenged me. I started with nothing more than a good speaking voice. After 30 years of classes and productions, I have become a respectable actress and a good director. My theatrical accomplishments are some of my most cherished because I had to work for that growth.
  • A Place Where Unique Contributions Are Valued. Whatever your skill set, if you want to work on a show, there is a theatre that can use you. Even the most elementary amateur production needs performers, sets, costumes, props, lights and sound, publicity, front of house, and overall coordination. Even if you don’t want to perform, you can be a valuable member of the team. I like to know what is going on in every aspect of the production which makes me especially valuable as a stage manager, director, producer, or Board Member.
  • A Reason to be Part of a Team. I am naturally introverted. I like to figure everything out myself, and manage all the details on my own. But, you can’t do that in theatre. My senior thesis in college included a solo performance that I wrote, choreographed, and directed. I also designed and created the costumes, set, and sound. But, even so, I needed people to run the show while I performed in it and somebody else to design the lights. It would have been impossible for me to succeed without at least a small team.
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About Kate Arms-Roberts

www.katearmsroberts.com

Posted on January 27, 2012, in Creativity, Play, This Writing Life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Woo! I think I was one of the people who has expressed interest in this, so thank you for sharing. It’s really interesting to me, someone who spent ten years as a singer but couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag. (Nor could I dance, so there went the dream of Broadway…)

    I’m curious about your self-identification as an introvert. That is quite common with writers, but I’ve always assumed most actors were extroverts. Of course, there’s gaining an energy charge from interacting with others (a definition of an extrovert) and performing for others, which is not interaction and which an introvert can do. You say that figuring things out helped you, but could it also be that when acting there was that natural distance from the audience, the fourth wall, that made it easier to overcome your introversion?

    • Kate Arms-Roberts

      Patrick,

      A surprising percentage of actors are introverts. And, the techniques of modern theatre that derive from Stanislavski’s work on internal motivations and sense memory appeal to introverts far more than extraverts. And the subtlety of film work can be easier for someone whose focus is internal rather than external.

      Only when introversion is conflated with shyness does it appear to be something that needs to be overcome in order to act. Even introverts like recognition for their work, and there is nothing more immediate than a responsive live audience.

      What I have noticed is that beginning actors who I would guess are extraverts tend to display themselves in every role they play, whereas introverts are more likely to be character actors, finding the unique depths of each role.

      There is more to be said on this. This just taps the surface. Maybe I’ll go deeper in a post soon.

      Thanks for asking the questions.

      Cheers,
      Kate

  2. I appreciate the information you provided about introverts and acting. I loved drama club in high school and was able to participate in drama productions in my last 2 years. It was something I would have loved to pursue after school, but due to the religion in which I was brought up and the belief system I had at the time, I didn’t. (and frankly, I was lucky I was even allowed to participate in it while in school) I still feel it enriched this introvert’s life in many ways. Later, I was able to live vicariously through my kids’ lives while they fully participated in drama productions in high school and even now occasionally perform in local independent films (right now, just the kind of stuff that goes to YouTube and Vimeo, Not so much the film festival stuff….yet) and community theatre productions.

    I’m commenting using my FB account because that is where the photos of my son as Seymour in “Little Shop of Horrors” and my daughter as Florence Unger in the female version of “The Odd Couple” are located –since I seem to have fallen into a braggy mood now…

    • Kate Arms-Roberts

      I love the photos of your kids.
      I am always saddened by the many ways that art gets pushed out of people’s lives, but at least you got a few years. One of the nice things about community theatre is that it is almost never too late to get involved in some way. Something to think about, perhaps.
      Cheers,
      Kate

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