Today's is a food for thought-type post.
To all you working actors out there: Before performing professionally in NYC (or beyond), in your amateur days did you ever suspect you were merely "rehearsing" for an eventual "real-life" theater experience--one that would be vastly different in its professionalism?
I had this feeling.
But, friends, one of the biggest industry insider tidbits I can give you is this: At its core, the professional rehearsal process doesn't feel much different than any other rehearsal processes. "Real-life rehearsals" (i.e. for "real," professional theater) feel remarkably similar to what I used to think of as "rehearsals for real-life" (i.e. summer camp, college, amateur theater).
The rules might be stricter, and the stakes much higher, but in general, past is prologue; the same qualities that will make you excel in amateur theater will make you excel in professional theater. The same pitfalls apply as well. Sure, while things may "matter" more, no magical fairy dust gets blown onto the work environment to suddenly make it strange and unfamiliar.
(I'm speaking mainly of the professional rehearsal process for smaller shows. With huge, long-running Broadway musicals (like "Wicked," for instance) this rule doesn't really hold up. Everything gets insane when you're working on something like that... But those are the rare exceptions. And you can still make do...)
In any event, my advice to aspiring actors is to practice, practice, practice, do theater whenever you can, and pay attention to the here and now. This is what being an actor feels like. Don't think of working in the theater as some remote and unfamiliar concept; you're living the dream right now! If you like it, keep going.
If not--grad school, anyone?