Why Being in the Ensemble Won’t Ruin Your Life

By: Emma Zander (2016)

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Men’s Ensemble in “Carousel”

If you’ve ever been in any play, you’ve probably heard,¨There are no small parts, just small actors,¨ and chances are you rolled your eyes or maybe you took it to heart. Bottom line, there are small parts. The reality is some parts are larger- they have more lines, singing, acting, dancing, whatever it is. There are the leads, supporting roles, and the ensemble. Not to mention the people behind the scenes that lay down the foundation that actors build off of.

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Girls Ensemble in “Brigadoon”

But, yes. Small parts exist. There can be small actors in small parts and big actors in small parts. Be a big actor. Your job as an actor is to make your part the best it can be. If you have one line, make it the best damn line in the show. If you don’t have lines? Make sure your facials are the ones the audience remembers after the curtains have closed. Hold yourself accountable. Let’s say you’re in the very back of a huge musical number. There’s what seems to be 100 people in front of you. The dancers are in front anyways. So, you just kind of try dancing, you sing your part but overall you’re just kind of whatever. What you do matters. Your acting matters. You were cast in the show because Ms. Winnie and Ms. Figg-Franzoi believed you can make our show better.

If that’s not enough for you, you need to think to yourself, “There is someone here just to watch me.” Chances are you’ll have a friend or family members that are only there to watch you. Their eyes are on you the whole time. Give them a show. Even if no one is there specifically for you, I can assure you you will be watched during the show. Then if that’s not enough, think about doing it for yourself. You signed up for the show for a reason. Why did you do it? If it’s because you love theater, channel it. If it’s because your mom made you do it, find the good in it. Whatever the reason, find the positive.

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Amanda’s facial expressions and willingness to risk anything is what made her memorable in “The Mikado”

A former ensemble member, Amanda Albright (‘15) shared her thoughts on participating in the ensemble, “Being a part of an ensemble is quite freeing. Yes, you do have to memorize lines, songs, and dances like any other part, but you are nameless. As an ensemble member, you get to craft your own character that lives in the world of the play or musical. Figg knows how much power that is because I would take it to the extreme. It allows for the audience to see beyond the main characters and connect with the world. The ensemble creates the realm. It’s essential to act as a part of the group but to also find what makes your character special. Sure, there has been times where Figg or other cast members would say ‘Amanda. What are you doing?’ To that I would just smile and shrug my shoulders. I recommend that fellow ensemble members should explore the qualities of your character to better frame the surrounding world but to also find that place to have a moment on stage where the audience can take your character in. Make them laugh or make them cry.”

Play a big role, even if you’re a small part.

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