I was never the girl who would walk around the dorm in my underwear, so this communal momentary near-nakedness with new friends was new for me. But concentrating on insecurities during a performance would interfere with the role and serves no purpose. So don’t worry about what you can’t change. Just wear good underwear.
Second, don’t just learn your own lines. My biggest fear was, “How can I possibly learn so many lines?” The advice I was given was to concentrate on learning the story and the lines would come. The repetition of rehearsal after rehearsal takes care of teaching you the lines.
But if you only learn your lines, you have done your fellow cast members a disservice. There is a trust among actors that only comes when they know they are acting with someone who has their back and can help gloss it over if someone misses a line or a cue.
Just like in life, the people you want to spend your time with are the ones who you know will support you, the ones who are there for you and love you after every performance, not just the good ones.
Third, there is always tomorrow night. When completed, “Angry Fags” will have been performed 18 times in front of an audience. In that duration actors have been sick, hurt, tired, menstrual and hung over. Some nights were better than others but when someone stumbled, we reminded each other that there was always tomorrow night to take another swing.
I learned that it is not so much about being perfect as it is keeping that desire to always be better. By constantly wanting to give a better performance, it creates anticipation and motivation for everyone around you.
Fourth, the funniest moments happen backstage. Casts and crews bond fast by being together in the theatrical trenches night after night. You have spent time together auditioning, doing table reads, blocking, rehearsing lines, and training for fight scenes. By the time the production starts, you are like a little family.
Once the rhythm of the production becomes instinctual, the time spent backstage between scenes becomes the stress reliever. I grew to love being backstage as much as being on stage. Just like in life, the time spent in the spotlight isn’t the most important part. It’s the relationships you build backstage that truly make you who you are.
Several people have asked me if I would ever act again. Topher all but dragged me into this role and but for my trust and admiration of him, I don’t know if I ever would have taken the risk.
But this experience has reminded me of how much we miss every day when we let fear and insecurity make our decisions for us. So next time you get the chance to do something that scares you, ask yourself, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”
Then say yes.
Melissa Carter is also a writer for Huffington Post. She broke ground as the first out lesbian radio personality on a major station in Atlanta and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter