Life has been busy again since I’m working on a new play. For the past few weeks I’ve been stage managing Keegan Theatre’s production of Noises Off!, a show that has a lot of sentimental value for me- it was my first ever stage production back in high school. This particular production also is a first for me since it is my first professional gig.
It’s weird to thing about being a professional. I mean what does it mean to be a professional?
Is it the money? Two years into my re-entry back into theatre and I’m being paid for to stage manage. However it’s not my first paid gig, I was paid as a production manager for MVP back in the day and MVP was a non-profit community group.
Is it the location? Well we rehearse in church basements just like Ford’s Theatre. It’s not out of the ordinary to see successful entrepreneurs work from a Starbucks or their home.
Is it the time commitment? Previously my shows rehearsed three-four days a week for a couple of months. This production is rehearsing 6-7 days a week for a month and a half. Talk about sacrificing your life. I know a lot of professional actors and actresses that have day jobs however. Just because you have a 9-5 somewhere else doesn’t mean you aren’t a pro.
Is it the status & accreditation? Keegan Theatre qualifies as a professional theatre according to the Helen Hayes Awards, which is the local equivalent of the Tony’s in DC. However who says that a talented artist isn’t a professional because he/she isn’t paid?
I think in the end it’s how you approach and perform the job that makes you a professional. I am excited to be working with a cast that is not only dedicated but is talented enough to get off book a couple of weeks into rehearsals- unheard of in my previous productions. I can tell with the way they perform and treat the job that these artists are true pros.
Even though this is my first “professional” gig, I haven’t done anything on this show that I haven’t done in my past ones. I’ve taken the time to break down the script, track props, and organize rehearsal information. When I walked into the rehearsal room with my stage manager’s kit the first week of rehearsals I got comments on how prepared I was. I replied that having a kit wasn’t anything special but I guess not every stage manager prepares the same way I do.
Finally working at a professional theatre helps affirm my work as a stage manager- but perhaps I was a pro long before I even reached this level. I hope you look at your hobbies and passions and work to take them to the next level regardless of pay, location, or external recognition.