Take Control of your Career
I have been thinking about this blog for five weeks now, desperately trying to come up with something personal to write about. Nothing seemed relevant enough, or more importantly, interesting enough. I could tell you about how I used to dream of being a famous actress, a renowned stage performer, even a spectacular dancer, but that isn’t the point.
What might be more accurate is sharing with you how I put my fears aside and discovered a natural leader in myself. Sharing the story of how I learned what my bigger ambition was: to be an inspiration to others.
Last year, February of 2015, someone I knew asked me to try out for the position of Production manager. He wanted to take a play to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival that summer, and wanted a first year to co-manage with a third year who already had the role.
I was terrified at the prospect of being one of the people in charge of such an important project, especially since I didn’t have any experience in that area (or in putting on a play for that matter – I’d only done acting). But I figured that I wouldn’t be on my own and that I had nothing to lose by trying. So nervous, yet hopeful, little me went to the interview and found out, one day later, that I was in. I was excited and couldn’t wait to get started.
Getting started in theatre
First up were the auditions. The director wanted me and my partner to assist him during that process, and I found myself in the middle seat giving input and re-directing the auditionees. I really enjoyed it. The director noticed and, within the following hour, asked me if I also wanted to be his assistant director.
All too happy - I said yes without a second thought. The worrying ensued. I had accepted two important jobs; neither one of which I felt qualified for. I wanted to tell the director: “I’m sorry, I think you have the wrong person for all of this”, but something was holding me back. I hadn’t cheated my way into this. I had been offered both positions based on my opinions and actions, by an impartial person who believed that I was capable. So I calmed down and got to work.
Two months later, my co-production manager and I had sorted out the rehearsal schedule, transport, and accommodation. I was feeling pretty confident; I got along with everyone, in particular my production partner, and they were all participating in successful fundraising events.
Then one of the leads dropped out. We auditioned others but weren’t able to fill in the spot. This lead to the director asking me to play the part: “No one’s good enough, but I can see you doing the part justice. I can take care of most of the directing and your partner can handle to production side. Please say yes”, he said. So I did. It was an opportunity to finally showcase my talent as a performer, and there wasn’t another solution. I was now co-production manager, assistant director, and actor.
Rehearsals started and for the next two months the meaning of relaxing disappeared from my dictionary. I was taking care of the set, the props, advertising, lighting and sound, organising rehearsals, directing, learning my lines, and acting. I was doing all of this with an amazing production partner, but with a less-than-helpful director. He was unorganised, unprofessional, and spent rehearsals on his phone only to then cut me off and repeat the direction that I had just given.
Don't be a quitter
I had a break down and wanted to quit. How did I find myself in this position? I was doing a three person job and was struggling to keep myself together. But I knew two things: first that I had gotten myself into this because I was driven and invested. Second that I had a made a commitment and that I had a responsibility towards the show and the people involved in it. I did what I felt I needed to do.
In the second week, I stepped up and took control. I did my best to bring the show up on its feet, with my partner standing in for me so that I could direct and with my cast helping me improve my own part. I lead the team up to the festival and we had an amazing two week run. In the process we all convinced the director to credit me with co-director, and in the end my cast and crew thanked me. They thanked me for making the process bearable, for making the adventure fun, and for making the play all that it could be.
Discovering skills and interests
In the end I discovered not only that I am very interested in directing, it being a perfect blend of being in a position of authority whilst caring for the people I am working with, but that I am capable of a lot. This experience has built up my self-confidence and showed me that I have it in myself to be a competent leader. More importantly I have found that I strive to be an inspiration to all through perseverance, hard work and motivation.
Margot Terrini is a half French, half American Drama student with a bilingual education. She has been involved in theatre for many years, specifically Shakespeare, so she knew she wanted to study in England. Born and raised in Paris by an American mother, Margot enjoys traveling to the United States every summer to visit family.