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From No Time to Downtime: Making the Most of the Moment

Bridget Coyne Gabbe shares some advice on what actors should do between gigs.

By New York City

Time for me now... Lulubell Gabbe

We all go through it. The dreaded in-between time when the project that has consumed your energy and attention suddenly ends. You think…what's next? Is there something else on the horizon? How long will it take? What will it be? WILL I EVER ACT AGAIN?!

Slow your roll. Maybe this momentary pause is a good thing. We are human beings after all. We need a break, a moment to pause, reflect and recharge. Wasn't it the great Sir Ferris Bueller who said: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

I blinked, and suddenly my show has come to a close. What can I do during this "sabbatical?" How can I make sure I take full advantage of my time off? (Well, "off" from acting, that is...)

First of all, enjoy it. I have a tendency to run myself ragged when I'm involved in various projects. This can lead to not giving 100% of myself to anything. An agent once told me that having a vibrant life outside of the world of theater is crucial to the success of an actor. I agree. Take the time you have now to catch up on things you wanted to do and people you haven't seen while you were knee deep in rehearsals. Sit in a park and read a book...catch a matinee...see a live band...get coffee with your BFF...sleep!

You're not the only one! Just because you're an actor does not mean that is all you are! One of my closest actor friends is spending her summer teaching poetry and literature in the woods of Maine. Nurturing the other loves in your life is just as important as the pursuit of career - and will ultimately help you grow as an actor.

Stay in school (again). I've covered this in the past, but I cannot stress enough the importance of taking classes. To be more specific: is there one acting skill in particular that you need to work on? Personally, I don't know the first thing about what it takes to sell a phone plan for T-Mobile - commercial intensive here I come!

Write. When I tell people I blog, what usually follows is: "Oh, wow, do you write plays too?" MMMMNope. That doesn't mean I haven't thought about it. A lot of actors I know also do a bit of script writing on the side - and they are pretty damned good at it. Maybe now's the time for me to give it a try.

Feed the piggy bank. If only I were a Kardashian It's a cold hard fact that as you're trying to get a leg up in this industry, you also need to pay your bills on time. Use this period to save up. It'll take some pressure off when you do have a gig and have to miss work (not that you actually miss your survival job). A successful director friend of mine drove this point home: "My down time between gigs is spent working as many survival jobs as I can. That's a very hard reality of this business. From a long term, career-minded perspective, getting into that habit and that rhythm is as important as the work you do in the rehearsal room."

Refocus. When you're working hard there's little time to work on your entire "package," but my prior post - becoming your own brand manager - discussed the importance of this. And the in-between times is the right time to take stock of your headshots, website, portfolio, inventory of monologues, etc. Where do you see gaping holes? What needs work? Focus on that now; and when you're busy again, all the tools of the trade will be fresh and ready to go. By the way, people have started commenting on my "brand." I'd like to tell you it's exactly what I've had in mind - but it isn't. It's actually better! Finally, pat your loyal pet, if you have one. The one who's been there waiting for your crumbs of affection, day-in, day-out. Time to return the looove. In my case, it's my cat. Yes, truth be told, I'm a crazy cat lady. Hmmm, now there must be a way I can turn that into an acting skill...


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