Acting Advice

Ask Me!: Film vs Stage acting?

Anonymous asked: So I been a film guy, I wanna get my feet wet into theater, how hard are the auditions? I know tv auditions arent so bad but what is it like. Also what is the life of a stage actor like?


Theater is where you will need your 2 to 4 go-to monologues. In TV/Film/Commercial you generally get scripts to work with but in theater to get your foot in the door – and to be considered seriously by a casting director – they usually screen by way of monologue.

Frankly I’m a fan of monologues because it gives you control over the situation and offers you a rare chance to really spread your talent-wings, but a lot of actors find them intimidating.

Also, working in theater is a real test of the memory and stamina. Working on a play gives you the very rare opportunity to develop and experience the arc of a character from beginning to end. On film and TV the process is totally chopped up and out of sequence so it takes a bunch of different brain muscles to keep the big picture in mind. On stage you HAVE to remember your lines. There are no do-overs. And you have to be able to push through an entire show over and over again while keeping it exciting and fresh for both you and the audience. That’s a real skill. In TV/Film you get to play with each moment IN the moment and it can be a number of different things if you want it to be. But on stage there’s only so much leeway for change beyond making the character deeper and richer – which is it’s own kind of thrill.

Also, onstage you have the awesome opportunity of interacting – albeit on a subtle emotional level – with the audience. On film sets you have a kind of disinterested audience in the crew and the director can be in a whole other room on a monitor so you are in a requisite bubble. The electricity of a live audience can be quite intoxicating! And the quiet safety of retakes on a TV/film set is quite comforting, too. Both so different and appealing for different reasons.

Being a stage actor is also different in the sense that the pay is different. While in TV/Film you can potentially live off of one job earning residuals into perpetuity the life of a stage actor is a little less financially secure. You CAN live off it, but the pond is way smaller and the talent WAY higher. A lot of big fish, if you get my gist.

I hope that is enlightening – at least a little.

Good luck!

Need acting advice? Ask the NYC Actor a question. 

About The NYC Actor

Angela Dee is a professional actress working in Film, Theatre, TV, Commercials and Voiceovers. She currently lives in New York.

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