So, What’s Next?

By Rebecca Spelman

Seeing as this is the Halloween edition of the Eva’s Echo Theatre blog, I wanted to share with you one of the scariest things that can happen to a theatremaker. It’s something that happens quite often and pretty casually. Said by people who think nothing of it, these three words can make an artist’s blood run cold and propel them into a spiralling existential crisis:

“So, what’s next?”

Those words strike more fear into my heart than any scary movie. Okay, not any scary movie, but a lot of them. When someone asks me that question, my blood runs cold and I desperately try to mumble something non-committal without crying or launching into a 45-minute rant about how life is unpredictable and none of us ever truly know what is next. Who needs jump scares and haunted houses when the deepest terrors live inside you, right?

Feeling the terror

Once those words hit your eardrums, the feeling of terror sets in. Your stomach drops, your mouth gets dry, and the tightening in your chest makes you wonder if you’ll be able to get the words out once you think of an answer. How can one little question carry so much weight?

A lot of it has to do with the unstable nature of the arts. Whether you’re working on a professional show or getting involved in a community production, odds are most people involved don’t have their next project lined up. Being asked what’s next just amplifies that feeling of uncertainty, of wondering if you should have something lined up by now. If you ask someone with a stable lifestyle what’s next, they’re probably content to tell you about their carefully-planned career trajectory and personal goals. Ask someone in theatre, however, and they start to question every life choice they’ve ever made.

Another reason it’s so unsettling is that every production requires a huge commitment. Time, money, and energy are all put in with the desperate hope of getting everything ready by opening night. A lot of people involved in theatre need a break between productions, usually using the time to catch up on areas of life that were neglected in favour of rehearsals and cast bonding. Back-to-back projects can lead to burnout if they aren’t managed carefully, and yet post-show depression can affect people who don’t know what to do with themselves once a show is over. There’s a fine line between overwhelming and under-stimulating yourself, and getting that balance right with every single project is a monumental task.

Playing a dangerous game

The real question is, who asks this kind of question? What sick, twisted monster cooks up the most terrifying question they can and preys upon innocent theatremakers? Who would have the nerve to ask “So, what’s next?” Odds are, it’s probably your mum or something.

Everyone asks this question when they meet a theatremaker, it’s as simple to them as asking a taxi driver how long they’ve got left on their shift when they climb into the car. From the question asker’s perspective, it’s little more than harmless small talk. They probably do care if you have anything coming up, but not nearly as much as you’d like to think. Little do they know the fear they’re instilling.

To be fair, theatre is a relatively niche interest. Unless you’re speaking to someone who takes part in theatre themselves, odds are this awful question is the only thing this person can think to say. They haven’t seen many (or any) plays, and unfortunately, they just weren’t able to make it to your last show! So sorry about that! They’ll definitely get to the next one!

Asking a theatremaker what they’re doing next seems like a safe bet to someone who doesn’t have a conversational alternative. It feels like nothing more than the theatrical equivalent of “So, any plans for the weekend?” The theatremaker who is now having a panic attack knows otherwise, but saying so would bring a very different tone to this casual chat. 

Making things a little less scary

It’s all well and good to talk about crippling fear and small talk that makes you wish the ground would open up and swallow you, but shouldn’t we be a little more proactive?

If someone asks you the dreaded question, there are a few ways you can handle it. Not all of them will achieve the same goal, but some might be more fun than others. You can:

  • Tell them the truth… honestly. You don’t have anything coming up, there are some potential opportunities but you don’t know for certain if they’ll pan out. Maybe this could happen, maybe this other thing could happen, you really don’t know. Oh God, why are you doing this with your life? Should you have done business in college like your mum said? Should you give up productions and learn to teach Speech and Drama? Oh my God, what if-
  • Tell them the truth… not so honestly. Blag your way through it confidently and rush away before further questions can be asked. You have a couple of things in the works, it’s difficult to tie down a concrete schedule when there are so many potential projects vying for your attention. Oh, it’s so difficult to even remember them all in this conversation! There’s just so much going on in your fabulous theatre life. In fact, you have to go right now- must have lunch some time!
  • Cry. Just cry. Don’t even try to answer the question, your tears will say so much more. It gets you out of that conversation and- bonus- no-one will ever ask you again.
  • Turn the question back on them. Someone says to you, “So, what’s next?” and you say “I’m glad you brought it up. I’ve been worried about you. Your life seems a little bit directionless right now and I just want to know that you have a plan. What are your goals? What are your dreams? What steps are you taking to make the life you crave a reality?” Keep going until you see the look of panic on their face that you usually feel in your own facial muscles during these situations. That’s when you know your work is done.

“So, what’s next?” is a seemingly innocuous question that holds far too much power for three little words. If you want a really good scare this Halloween, just strike up a conversation with someone you haven’t seen in a while and feel the suspense build as you wait for the dreaded question. Scarier than any horror film, I can tell you. If you can’t manage it this Halloween, don’t worry- it will definitely come up at Christmas too.

My Rejection Story

One of the things bound to happen in the creative world is rejection. You go to the audition/design proposal/directing pitch full of confidence and hope. You have put in the preparation, your research is done, you’re experienced and have amazing credentials. You get on with the director/producers and walk out of the room convinced you’ll be given good news. A week later you receive an email; ‘I regretfully inform you that you have not been casted/chosen for project name. Thank you for your application and we wish you all the best in the future.’ That’s when those thoughts creep in; ‘What’s wrong with me?’ ‘Am I not experienced/smart/professional enough?’ ‘Did I come across too quiet/uptight/casual/confident?’ ‘Why was I not picked?’ It is the wondering and lack of why that causes an artist to doubt their abilities, visions and passions. Sometimes it makes one think twice before applying for an open call in fear of being rejected. As with other aspects of life , rejection  is something artists faces in any practice. I myself have an idea.

Hazel in Youth Theatre

While in youth theatre, I knew acting and drama were my desired career pursuits. That was why I longed for the leading role in the end of the year pantomime. ‘Yes, this will give me the best start.’ ‘I will be discovered.’ ‘I’ll make a great impression once out in the real world.’ That however, wasn’t meant to be. At the time I believed; ‘I wasn’t working hard enough’, ‘I must be too fat’, ‘I’m not popular enough’, ‘Maybe I’m too serious’. It was only in my last year there I realised as my teacher said that ‘It could be done and casted many ways. Don’t think that you’re not good because you didn’t get picked.’ That is advice I thrived to carry with me into my third level and professional years. 

Hazel while studying Performing Arts

During my third level years opportunities have come along through open castings and auditions. An experience I remember specifically related to both is when I was in second year. We were in our finals for our Physical Theatre Module when a well-known Irish director (I mean, well established) and his team came into us. They were looking for extras for a film they were due to shoot that summer. They spoke to us individually asking where we were from and our plans for the summer, they then took ‘headshots’ and left. I recall a classmate of mine saying ‘I don’t care, I don’t want to do it.’ … And they were casted! I thought; ‘I wanted to be in it!’, ‘Why didn’t they pick me!’, ‘I should’ve worn make up that day, ahhh!’ Another example is an audition I did for a play in Galway. I had a free semester in third year and thought no better way to utilise my time. I went to the audition and it went well. A week later, the director called me saying; ‘It was a very hard decision you were down to the last three but we went with someone else in the end. We were very impressed though.’ Then why wasn’t I picked!!!! Of course I didn’t say that, I took the rejection gracefully with the arts world being small I didn’t want to ruin my reputation so early on. 

In my final year, I was in full focus and yearned for that First Class Honors. I gave up drink in the run up to our grad show, quit ‘social’ smoking, worked out most days (I was in the best shape of my life and still trying to get back to it!), stayed on top of my reading, made sure I was off book for rehearsals and did all the right things (as I thought). I was certain I was getting the 1:1, I was less than one percent away from it after the Christmas semester I have to get it, I will get it… I ended up with a Second Class Honors. The sense of rejection and devastation took over me so much I wondered why did I even bother. ‘What does that say about me as an artist?’ ‘Am I not good enough?’ ‘What was the fault or faults in my work?’ Out of all the rejections to date, this was the one that I took the hardest and almost quit theatre completely. One year later, a close friend of mine went through the same thing and I told her to not let it define her as an artist as I did. A year later, we set up our own theatre company, staged a sell out show and walked away with an award. 

Rejection whether for a local theatre group or a huge scale film production is never easy to take. The most important thing I have learnt is to not let it define you and what you do after counts the most. Even writing this has made me reflect on my experiences and how I deliver rejection as a producer. As I look out at the fog on Benbulben it has made me think twice and want to be mindful and give more to the artist than a ‘no’. I wish to no longer be like the fog but to let the artist see the full view, give advice and encouragement in moving forward with their craft.

Ace your Audition

By Rena Bryson

As an acting teacher, I’m often asked how to best prepare for an audition. Being an actor and producer I’ve been on both sides of the audition process. Having recently cast Eva’s Echo’s upcoming production Starseed I felt now was the opportune time to share some audition tips. 


Headshot by Catriona Bonner Photography

Having high quality and clear headshots is often essential when applying to audition. Professional headshots are best but if it is an expense you can not afford ask a friend to take some photos for you, even if the quality is not as high it’s still better than applying without one.

  • Wear plain clothing, you are the focus.
  • Same goes for the setting, keep your background plain.
  • Make sure it looks like you, this means no heavy make up.
  • Your eyes should be perfectly in focus, alive, and energized.
  • Some agencies will ask for a full body shot as well as a head and shoulder shot, capture both on the same day for consistency. 
  • Different agencies have preferences for color or black and white headshots, have a copy of each shot in both styles.  


A showreel is a great opportunity to showcase your talent before your audition. If you don’t have any experience on camera you can still create a showreel, simply film 2 – 3 monologues or duologues at home. 

  • Include your name, headshot and agency if you have one at the beginning of your showreel. 
  • Many producers or agents will have limited time to view several showreels so put your best work at the start.
  • Each clip should ideally be of similar length, around 30 seconds per clip is ideal.  
  • Show the variety of your talent by showcasing contrasting roles.
  • If you have a suitable clip, lead with a clip of a project similar to the one you’re applying for. 
  • Do not include extra work in your showreel, unless you are applying for an extra role.

Dress Comfortably

When preparing for an audition make sure you are not wearing clothing that will limit your ability to act. Those skinny jeans might look great, but if your unable to use the space or follow the directors physical direction your putting your audition in jeopardy. 

Warm up

Warm up your body and voice before you audition. An actor’s body is their instrument and needs to be tuned before any performance. Due to the amount of audition applications each actor we see at Eva’s Echo usually has a fifteen minute slot. This doesn’t allow time for warm ups in the space.

Be Punctual

Be on time or early if possible. I always take note of actor’s punctuality as I see it as a reflection of their time management for rehearsals. 


Research the production and the role before applying. Over the years we’ve received so many emails from actors applying for unsuitable roles or for a production that collided with their own schedule because they did not read the application before applying. This wastes both the time of the actor and producer. 

Photo Credit – Sabrina Kelleher

Read the script

If you are provided the script or a scene before the audition read and analyse the work, especially the role you are auditioning for. You’ve been given an opportunity to rehearse with the text prior to the audition, meaning the director expects you to have done so. I don’t always provide the script before an audition but when I do I hope to discuss the play with the actor. An extra bonus is when an actor memorizes the script for an audition, without being asked. This has only happened once at Eva’s Echo and when it came down to a severely close call we cast the actor who had put in that extra effort.  

Be Yourself

Photo Credit – Piotr Łyszkiewicz

When you enter the audition room you have an opportunity to introduce yourself. The time spent speaking with an actor before their performance is an important part of the audition. When casting I am always factoring in how people would work together as creating a strong team is just as important as strong performances in individual roles. Be yourself, be friendly and use the time to show the director what you would be like to work with. 

Take Direction

After you’ve completed your first reading the director will often ask you to perform the piece again with notes. This an opportunity to show your variety and that you can take direction. Make sure you understand the directors note and ask for clarity if needed.

Ask Questions

Be open and authentic, if you have a question about the script, the production or the rehearsal process it’s the best time to ask.

Artist in Love

By Hazel Doolan


In light of the two year anniversary of our debut of the romantic comedy ‘Match’, I thought it was only appropriate to blog about a relevant theme. We’ve all been there, all in search of something special with detours along the way. Awkward secondary school crushes, dramatic romantic affairs in uni, long term relationships, brief encounters, standing up dates, being stood up, blind dates, Tinder dates and so forth. The same goes as an artist but can vary depending on the scenario and the stages one may be at.

Act One: Pursuing

The search on cast/class nights out, the swiping on an App and creeping in the college library/theatre. Underneath all the drama and excitement of pursuing a beau, an artist like anyone else wants a meaningful connection. Best case scenario would be picnics in a meadow while the love interest plays the guitar while you recite poetry and then, you know. You know that you’ve found the one… It doesn’t exactly happen that way though. Typically you’d be doing your best take on movies, making impressions with your knowledge of art/literature/theatre practices and or reciting that famous monologue. Over blaring music at a house party/night club you debate why Brecht’s works are still significant in modern society although the person in question may not know who Brecht is. This sets your ambitions to impress higher and then you share more of your ‘artsy’ knowledge. In some cases you successfully woo said person and you walk away with a number/Facebook friend request. This leads into more conversations about your chosen craft. Late night texts, funny memes they thought you might like, ‘Hey, how’re you?’ messages and so forth. Before you know it, you’ve been asked to go for a drink/coffee.

Act Two: Dating

Photo Credit – Catriona Bonner Photography

So, you have a date. You have caught the attention of another being who could potentially be the guitar player/poetry reader under the tree. What now? Well, you need to make sure you’ve enough artistic material to keep you covered in conversation in order to not repeat yourself, a killer outfit which expresses your individuality while appealing your best assets, and… Wait, did you already tell them about your trip to London and the terrible Opera? You can’t repeat yourself again, quick! What else is there? No you’ve said too much about Brecht and you’ve said your ‘let’s break the fourth wall’ joke. Ok, don’t panic. You’ll definitely have more to say. 

You arrive and there they are… Where’s the music? The lighting change? Hmm, alright then. You exchange a friendly meeting and you proceed to get coffee/drink, the curtain is up. The date in all goes well, you laugh and find out more about your potential beau as they share their interests with you, artistic and others. The panic you had before seems irrelevant now and you continue to enjoy the rest of your date. 

Act Three: Relationship

The unimaginable has happened, your potential beau is now your beau. They go to all your shows/exhibitions, they lend a helping hand for flyering/get outs, they have tea made after a long rehearsal, they show extra support during tech/show/exhibition week and know not to throw anything out that may be a ‘prop’. Your house is full of crap and you’re drowning in paperwork from applications/scripts but they are there for you throughout. They are at the stage where they know references from Grease and Chicago which they may not like the fact that they do but they know how much those movies mean to you and embrace it. You do the same for them, whether they are a fellow artist or not. Then on a summer’s day you are sitting outside reciting poetry while they are playing guitar/picking a song on Youtube… And then ye have to leg it inside out of the rain cause let’s face it we’re in Ireland.


An artist’s journey for love and romance is no different from others whether looking for love, dating or being in a relationship. They embark on their search in the same ‘stages’, experience the same fear of having nothing to talk about on a first date and dream of having that magical moment as depicted in romance novels/movies. Like any relationship though it is important to remember that ‘Perfect is just perfect, better is better.’  

Photo Credit – Catriona Bonner Photography

A Blog about Vlogs

By Rena Bryson

I write this blog in the mists of that strange post show blues, relief to have my life back combo that I’m sure most theatre makers can relate to. Bringing Vlogger from script to stage was an unforgettable worldwind of filming, fighting with technology, urika moments, long days, lots of laughs and even more fights with technology, ironic I know. 

Photo Credit – Catriona Bonner Photography

I was inspired to write Vlogger after an experience at a family friends home, while visiting I noticed the children were watching YouTube videos on repeat. Their mother told me this was their main source of entertainment, which was fascinating mainly because the videos were so unbelievably boring. Once I got home I fell deep down a youtube rabbit hole of mundane videos, morning routines, evening routines, sick day routines, you name any mundane activity and I guarantee there is a video of a beautiful 20 something year old doing it. 

It was hard to tell the difference between research and procrastination when I found myself watching youtube all day. I had never before considered the impact Youtube has had on our culture, from Barack Obama’s viral Yes We Can video to Justin Beiber’s speedy leap from Youtuber to star, the platform has the power to change lives.  

After watching way too many hours of Vlogs I became fascinated by the line between reality and edited reality. In most other forms of entertainment there is some separation of creator and creation but when your creation is about your life how seperated from it can you really be? Especially in an industry were authenticity is a key element of the entertainment.   

Photo Credit – Catriona Bonner Photography

This question was explored when my research (youtube rabbit hole) lead me to Vlogger Logan Paul who recorded footage of a dead body and released it to YouTube. When recording this disturbing footage, he presented it in a casual manner which matched his dementer during mundane experiences in his other videos, it appeared that he viewed no difference between his absurd and everyday actions. This detachment from social norms and the blurred line between one’s authentic self to the self constructed version, inspired a great deal of Mia’s rationale throughout the play. 

I felt a multimedia theatre production was the best medium to explore these issues, by merging live performance and film both real Mia and online Mia could share the same space. The audience could witness the hidden turmoil in Mia’s life alongside the creation of her vlogs, the content creation process and see an influencer use Facetune in real time. 

Mia’s identity is completely linked to her online persona and even if she does not participate in activities such as morning yoga, she gains happiness from others believing that she is, this allows her to experience a short term joy greater than she would achieve through the activities themselves. As her personality begins to merge with her online persona, her own sense of identity is lost and she becomes a shallow representation of herself. This element of mundane vlogs is what I believe makes the content so appealing, especially to young viewers. Stepping into the shoes of someone who never breaks their diet, lives an exciting life style and is effortlessly beautiful is a welcome break from reality.

Photo Credit – Catriona Bonner Photography

Many Vloggers share their mental health difficulty’s with their audiences but maintain an overly optimistic outlook on life, which although inspiring is often not an authentic representation of living with a mental illness. Perhaps it is comforting to some viewers, especially those dealing with mental health difficulties to believe for a 20 minute Vlog, that life is simpler than it seems. After all, is it all that different from enjoying a sitcom that will maintain the status quo in 30 minutes?

In the same way previous generations escaped their reality by enjoying sitcoms, thousands of online audience members follow the lives of youtubers. The key difference being perceived authenticity, while previous generations admired celebrities looks and were influenced by their style, say getting ‘the Rachel’ haircut, there was a barrier between real life and entertainment. The public were aware that celebrities could afford personal trainers, beauty treatments and surgery but these practices weren’t attainable by the general public. Unfortunately a great deal of Youtubers and Influencers continue the trend of unattainable beauty standards and as they are not traditional celebrities their looks appear attainable to you or me if we buy their green tea or follow their five tricks for a flat tummy. 

Photo Credit – Catriona Bonner Photography

The most dangerous aspect of this issue is that through apps like Facetune these influencers are creating beauty standards they can not match themselves. The normalisation of filters and Facetune encourages the user to present themselves as flawless online, which if done consistently can have serious effects on mental health as the user inevitably compares themselves to the edited image. I admit I’ve given myself a fright once or twice when my own face was reflected back at me while snapchat filters changed. 

Photo Credit – Catriona Bonner Photography

I wished to spark a conversation about sexual consent and technology following the final scene of the play. Following her brother’s death Mia compulsively creates content about the tragedy. Leaning on social media in a crisis similar to the way someone else may turn to drink, cigarettes or drugs in a time of great stress. Her partner Sandra scolds her for recording the funeral which leads to a fight, after which Mia loses a YouTube subscriber and goes over the edge. Focused only on her goal to gain online attention she places a camera by the bed and hits record before making up with Sandra and convincing her to have sex. Sandra consented to have sex with Mia but she couldn’t consent to the recording as she wasn’t even aware it was happening. In a digital age this is a scenario that is unfortunately not that far fetched and is worth discussing.

Photo Credit – Catriona Bonner Photography

Vlogger posed a lot of questions, but did not give many answers because honestly the issues explored don’t have clear solutions. The internet is a powerful tool which can change lives for better or worse. Mia’s followers led her to find her missing brother possibly saving his life, but sharing his story online was a contributing factor to his depression and may have been the reason he ended his life. Recognizing the power the internet has is the first step towards being responsible consumers and creators online.

I hope to go back to Vlogger and expand the piece as there is so much to explore. But for now I’m putting the script to sleep for a while and enjoying cat videos without wondering what impact they have on our culture. Till next time, don’t forget to like and subscribe!

My favorite memory was our first full run before show week including all projections, set and costume. It was a tough journey for everyone with challenges along the way but we had an amazing first run and we all just gave each other a big hug after. It was so nice going home after that long day seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces.

Hazel Doolan – Director
Photo Credit – Catriona Bonner Photography

“Being on the team for vlogger was a very interesting experience. Watching the many levels of the show from the relationship dynamic, to the projections and the constant change of the expectation of a perfect life on social media to the reality of the situation. Its always been a pleasure to come aboard on the Eva’s productions and probably as the last member to be on board ,you see it in a fresher perspective but on capturing Vlogger from a visual perspective, there was something so refreshing bringing out the issues of modern Ireland on stage. To be able to show that on a larger scale and then to focus in on the main characters relationship, its incredible. Everyone on the project was brilliant and there was a great feeling of unity and has a great creative space to thrive in”

Catriona Bonner – Photographer