By Rena Bryson
Every time an actor vents about rejection, lack of opportunities and nepotism they are met with the same response: “why not make your own work?” Even though this is easier said than done, it is solid advice. But how does one make their own work and should they?
An actor making their own work through devising, writing, improvising, whatever approach they like only works if the actor is truly passionate about the project. This presents a huge difficulty for many actors, who just want to act. And let’s be clear there is absolutely nothing wrong with being an actor who just wants to act! In this case I would suggest collaborating with another artist who is passionate about a story they want to tell who needs someone passionate about acting. Forcing yourself to produce, write, edit, design, stage manage etc. will only make you resentful if you really have no love for it. But there are lots of great creatives out there who are passionate about all of those things, let them shine instead!
But if you are an actor wanting to spread those creative wings, here are a few ways you can make your own work.
Make your own short film. This can be a great way to practice your craft, gain experience on set, collaborate with other artists and gain some great showreel footage. You can go as professional or casual as you want in your approach. During lockdown, I made a funny short film starring my dog and I used just my phone, ring light, and a lapel mic. My fiance and I wrote it together which was great fun. If you want a more professional approach you could work with other creatives you know or find online. Facebook groups are great for finding other film creatives looking for work. Little Cinema is a great active group with members of all experience levels.
Workshop New Writing
Many playwrights (including myself) find it invaluable to hear their work read out loud. It can be very helpful to bring a group of actors together to workshop a script while it’s being developed. Last month I did this with two other artists at the Town Hall Theatre. I performed their scripts and they mine. This was a great exercise as both a playwright and an actor. If you love new writing try contacting local writers and ask if this is something they would be interested in. Or if you have a script idea and some creative friends get together for your own workshop. To bring this a step further you can then perform an extract of this work at a local open mic. Local theatre company HystERia often host open mics at Massimos.
Put on a Show
This is probably the most ambitious option, but it’s how Eva’s Echo started so I can’t not recommend it! Bring a pre-existing script you love or a new story you’re dying to tell to the stage. How to fully go about producing a show could be an entire blog in itself (note for later) but your basic first steps will be:
- Venue (We’d recommend the Town Hall Theatre studio for first shows)
- Budget / Fundraising
- Crew Call
- Rights for script
- & loads more