The toolbox of skills I’ve learnt on the stage
Updated: Jan 19, 2021
Hey I’m Arianne! I am proud to work in the glorious arts industry as an actor, and theatre-maker. I discovered the magic of performing as a shy 7-year old, who on stage was unrecognisable, and let her imagination fly. Fast forward 12 years, I trained at London’s international drama school, Rose Bruford College, and have been acting professionally ever since!
The Covid-19 outbreak has majorly affected my beloved industry. However, robust as always, the arts and entertainment industry have shape shifted, and found ways to adapt and bring art and joy into people’s homes. It is this same resilience that has been one of the biggest lessons, in my training and career thus far. Such lessons have not only helped me to become a better actor, but they have strengthened my mind and capacity as an individual. I now have a growing toolbox of skills, that are useful and transferrable in professional and social environments.
So, here is a whistle stop tour of 4 useful skills I have learned working in theatre as a performer:
The beauty of live performance is that something will always happen that you never expected or planned (even if that’s an audience member laughing at a moment that was not meant to be funny!). One of the golden rules in theatre is, if you make a mistake, you keep on going, improvise and make it work! Being an adaptable team player offers the chance for you to become an expert problem solver, which, if you’ve ever been in a rehearsal room you would understand is essential to make any kind of show happen!
As mentioned before, this is a fundamental skill that I have learned along the way. In any competitive industry there is rejection, and you will face it at some point. For me it is a given, as we experience so much of it as actors. However the by-product of this is forming resilience. It takes time to build resilience, and it definitely means being knocked back and even failing. However this thicker skin can help us overcome many challenges, manage failure and stress better, and bounce back from bad auditions (doughnuts help with that too).
This is a big benefit to working in the theatre, as you meet a whole chorus of different people. You often work as a team, listening, communicating, devising or directing to produce a performance. You are in constant collaboration, and the result of successful networking will be further collaborations and working relationships. Networking has been an opportunity for me to flex my interpersonal skills, another tool in my box. People are your best resource in any career playground, especially in the arts. Just as long as you are using the connection and not the individual!
Leadership and confidence are natural side effects to this type of work. Not because actors are all arrogant beings, but because our job is kind of absurd. We are likely to do things like sing in an auditorium filled with hundreds of strangers, and hope to entertain. It takes courage, and this same courage enables us to have the confidence to lead. In my training I was given the permission to lead presentations, and direct performances, in a safe space where I could openly make mistakes. These lessons have paved the way for me to facilitate workshops in schools, public speak with confidence, and help me to organise and lead a team of people in any setting.
The arts are not just a hobby, they hold incredible significance. Although often disregarded for their importance, I can boldly say there is much value in these practices. You not only gain a huge collection of skills, but you learn about the world through a different lens. You are taught discipline, empathy and mindfulness, and there are still many more lessons to discover.