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Advice for Students from Professional Actors, Actresses, and Crew

Gianfranco Lentini asks participants in New York Classical Theatre's production of Twelfth Night for their words of wisdom. logo

This summer I've been lucky enough to intern with New York Classical Theatre on their production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night throughout Central Park and Battery Park.

Over these past two months I've experienced more than I could have ever bargained for, including the occasionally chaotic yet hugely rewarding worldliness that is outdoor/panoramic theater. I've learned a plethora of things from the mechanics of off-Broadway theater to even, yes, outdoor pest-control (I'm talking about you, raccoons!).

Through NYCT, I've made serious, lifelong friendships and have built onto my mental list of 'Thing to Remember as a Playwright' that I know will come in handy. For my TMU blog this week, I asked the entire NYCT cast and crew, "What's the number one piece of advice you could give an upcoming actor/actress?" Here are their answers!

Sydney Steele, Stage Manager - "Be adaptable."

Norah Scheinman, Assistant Stage Manager - "Communication is a two-way street. You need to listen as well as you speak... Learn everything you can so you can speak about anything to anyone."

Sydney Davis, Assistant Costume Designer - "Ask questions."

Ginny Myers Lee, Viola/Cesario - "To remain sane in the crazy whirlwind of it all. To remain true to yourself and grounded to yourself... whatever that means to you. Find something you love just as much as theater, which will in turn fulfill your soul and make yourself a better artist. There's more to it than you in this art form."

Clay Storseth, Duke Orsino - "I wish someone had taught me to not listen to certain people... I never learned how to keep thinking beyond the negative thoughts that someone else gave me… If anyone ever [says] you can't do something, they're wrong."

Chantal Jean-Pierre, Olivia - "Be confident in oneself… The competition is steep. There's always someone out there that will deflate [you], and the best way to rise to the top is to have to see it, have to want it with every fiber of your being, and you have to have confidence that you can achieve it."

Ben Charles, Sebastian - "Say yes as much as you can... Theater is a collaboration. Don't forget those around you."

Sean Hagerty, Malvolio - "Don't make theater your whole life. Explore other arts… Even though you want to do everything right now, there are some things that may not be on your path, but you will learn from... Go out of your comfort zone. If something scares you, it's probably worth giving it a shot... No amount of enthusiasm or energy can replace solid technique in your training."

Andy Paterson, Feste - "Keep learning everything, not just acting! Read, read, read! Seek and have searching, daring conversations on all kinds of topics. And do this your whole life!"

John Michalski, Sir Toby - "If you're going to pursue this, find a place to live that's as livable and cheap as possible, so that you can devote your time to the pursuit of the career rather than tending bar and waiting tables… It's a profession and a practice like a doctor, and you want to do it as often as possible… The most important part of this business is getting to know your audience."

Laura J. Cole, Maria - "Learn everything you can from the teachers and professionals around you, but don't be afraid of innovation and your own artistic voice. Don't be enslaved by someone else's idea of art... Your teachers know a lot but they won't always know everything."

Ian Antal, Sir Andrew Aguecheek - "Just breathe."

Danny Randerson, Antonio - "Never think you're done learning. An actor complacent with their skills is boring to watch. If you think you know everything, quit acting."

Daniel Patrick Smith, Valentine - "Go to as much theater as you can, see as many movies and TV shows as you can, so that you can know what inspires you and what kind of art you want to create."

Nick Salamone, Sea Captain/Fabian - "Take advantage of YouTube and TCM, and watch noted theater actors in film. Watch Geraldine Page all you can, watch Montgomery Cliff… These are folks who had long careers on the stage… Watch them at work in their films because it's a really valuable resource and it's also great to see theater actors make a transition into film."


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