Jeni Boyns is a secondary school drama teacher in Medway, Kent. She is on the committee of Gillingham Dramatic Society which mounts an annual autumn musical – Sister Act in 2016 and 9 to 5 this October – and a pantomime each February half-term.
Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get the role you wanted and are offered something else. You can have a fantastic time doing something else. I played Sister Mary Lazarus – not what I initially wanted – in Sister Act, had fantastic fun and learned a huge amount.
Spend some time working behind the scenes – the work there is vital to the show but usually underrated. You have to learn to work with the amateur company’s own backstage people, the resident ones in the venue and, sometimes an external team which brings and runs special equipment.
Get involved in the management of the organisation you’ve joined. It takes extra effort but it will help maximise the benefits you get from your membership. Organisations don’t run themselves. Alternatively volunteer to help with fundraising, if you don’t know how to put yourself forward then ask.
Take what you’re doing very seriously, which means being courteous and businesslike. If you have unavoidable commitments that will mean missing rehearsals let the director know as far in advance as possible. It avoids time wasting, people being called needlessly into rehearsals or not called when they’re needed.
There are two aspects to this. Don’t be afraid to go beyond your own comfort zone. Have a go at things you don’t think you can do because you might surprise yourself. Equally take time off occasionally – sit out a couple of shows, perhaps – because it helps you to avoid becoming complacent.