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Acting by the Number$: Can Theatre Pay the Bills?

Art is awesome. I love making art. All I’ve ever wanted to do was tell stories, the kind that help us examine the human experience. That’s what I believe acting to be, particularly in the theatre. Now from a working actor’s perspective, reality has to come into play. You want to do stage work, it’s your passion, but do you remember all the times someone in your past told you that “there’s no money in theatre”? I hate to break it to you, but that person was right. But there’s a way to survive. You can act for a living. But to me, the only way to do it, is by using ALL of the mediums that are out there beyond the stage.
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Understudy, Standby, Swing

Should you be an understudy, a standby, a swing? It’s kind of a vague question, but usually the undercurrent there is that once you become known as a reliable cover, you’ll be an understudy forever. You could ask Shirley MacLaine, Anthony Hopkins, Bernadette Peters, Taye Diggs, Matthew Morrison, or Lea Michelle; they all started out as understudies and moved on to exceptional careers. But let’s backtrack a little, what’s the actual difference in these special stage roles? Each of these positions holds its own unique advantages and challenges.

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