We are told over and over that if you’re gonna complain about being on Broadway, then don’t do it. So you keep your mouth closed, swallow your pride, and collect your check, all in the name of humility.
You really are grateful, but it feels as if someone just told you Santa isn’t real. When dreams become commerce, the reality can be a tough pill to swallow. Sure, it’s exciting to get to perform at the Tony Awards or on the Today Show, The Tonight Show, The View, etc., but after the cameras are off, you may feel stuck in a contract for another 9 months unhappy.
I’m not going to judge you. I understand; you’re frustrated performing eight shows a week and spending your only day off recovering for the next round. Then there are the other days at understudy and put-in rehearsals. It’s not the glamorous life of your dreams, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t have it any other way.
You just want to find some peace of mind during the process.
It’s a tough pill to swallow when your dream becomes a “job”, especially when said job has a book/score/direction/choreography that “if you were in charge!” you would change. Those ideas can fill up your head, cloud your judgment and bring your mood WAY down.
As artists, we aren’t designed to do the same thing over and over again. We need to be in constant movement and creation and crave the freedom to do so. So, here are my top 5 suggestions to use in difficult situations like this to help you change your perception from complaint to creativity.
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. - Reinhold Niebuhr
Ah, that old chestnut. But it’s as true now as it ever was. It is my belief that most of our suffering can end with just the word “acceptance”. Everything that’s happening right now is happening for you, not to you, and if we can accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly as it’s supposed to be, without some personal reflection on us, we will find peace.
2) GO HIGH
Backstage is a great place for commiseration, but man, is it a time waster. Don’t allow yourself to take on the load of everyone’s emotions. Instead, be a light. Ask yourself how you can create a positive experience for everyone. If that feels impossible, earphones are a wonderful device for helping to create boundaries and keep focused.
Think of how you want to be remembered. What do you want the people you are working with to remember you for? What’s the experience you create as an artist? Ask yourself this every day before work. The people you work with won’t remember what happened on the day to day, or during tech, but they will remember the energy you created during your time together. Give people an experience they will want to remember.
4) LEND A HAND
Trust me, someone else is having it worse than you right now. Try to remind yourself of that before you walk into the theatre each day. Maybe it’s crew backstage or someone in the audience; whoever it is, you have an opportunity to be of service to that person today. Don’t waste it.
5) NURTURE YOUR OWN CREATIVITY
Use the job to do the things you always wanted to do. Collaborate with the people you always wanted to collaborate with, and be the person you always dreamed you’d be. Too often, we give our power away wanting others to give us permission to create, but I’m giving you permission right here and now, and it never expires! Don’t wait to create.
Broadway shows open and close, but people keep moving forward. You are going to get another show, and even that one may or may not be the creative experience you always dreamed. Don’t allow that detail to get in the way of your happiness and the opportunity you have to bring joy to others.
WANT TO LEARN MORE TOOLS TO BOOK (AND SURVIVE) A CAREER ON BROADWAY?
Then join me for the Business of Broadway Course that begins in just a few weeks. Doors close on July 1st, so check it out here.