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Student Blog: A Complete 180 Degree Flip

The name of the game is 'well-rounded'.

An actor trains for hundreds of hours throughout their development, practicing everything from monologues to dance moves, to perfect their craft. While their spins may be 'doubles' and their scenes may be tear-jerkers, I do not think any performance education is complete without a technical theater background. At my university, every theater degree includes credits in production. Actors who comprehend the technical elements of a production appreciate the crew, understand notes, and become well-rounded individuals with new interests.

When someone with a performance focus begins to train in a technical aspect, they learn about the difficulties that crews and production teams encounter. While there should be a foundation of respect for any position, when someone is placed in a new role they can see a new perspective. Training in this way keeps actors and technical teams from feeling distanced from one another as well as fosters a stronger sense of an artistic community. Divas can be avoided and families can be built.

The more technical knowledge a performer possesses, the quicker a technical rehearsal can be carried out. Many notes and critiques given within tech week stem from the combination of technical and performance aspects, rather than solely acting choices. When an actor understands why a note is given, maybe in terms of their position on stage or level of volume, they are much more likely to address it correctly and remember it for the whole run. An actor can even anticipate technical issues so that they are delivering both artistically and logistically perfect performances.

Besides becoming well-rounded actors, those educated in production are also closer to becoming well-rounded individuals. When a performer has to make time within their rigorous training to build a set or call cues, it can spark a new interest and add to their overall knowledge of theater. Someone who only imagined themselves as a dancer may enjoy programming lights or directing a show. Students go to college to gain opportunities, and when their fields of view are broadened it opens up future careers that they never would have considered. Now an individual can perform for part of their life and make a transition to production for a long-lasting career in the arts. If a performer becomes discouraged in the industry they can shift to a technical side of theater for some time instead of leaving the arts from their life entirely. People who understand the performance of theater are valuable to the production industry because they bring a fresh perspective with a full view of the project.

It is a disservice for an actor to only focus on honing their performance skills when there are so many opportunities available to them. Actors with a strong technical background understand the production side of theater and present as more well-rounded individuals. There is always time to practice belting, but there should also be priority placed on work behind the scenes.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Grace Cutler