7 Truths You Need to Know to Handle Criticism in Community Theatre.

An Idiot On Stage

How do you handle criticism?

After spending 3 months in rehearsal, pouring everything you know how to do into your performance, you open your season to the audience. You’re having a ball and the audiences all seem to be enjoying the show. And then you see it … that one comment in a facebook post or a theatre review that challenges your performance ability and all your enthusiasm and joy is flushed like yesterday’s lunch.

How do community theatre people handle criticism? In my experience, not well. We give way too much of it and we don’t know how to accept it from a position of strength.

Community theatre has a tremendous amount of work to do, particularly in the area of technical theatre but, every one of us gets to the end of a season knowing that if we had our time over again, we would do things differently. This is because we learn so much in the process. Our end has a completely different skill base to our beginning.

So let’s assume that we’re facing criticism with a mind that is set on learning and a heart that is passionate about performing. What do we do when someone doesn’t like what we do?

Well, there’s the heart of the matter right there – “when someone doesn’t LIKE what we do!” A single person voices their opinion [which is valid for them and they have a right to it] and we make it our own. For some reason we believe it like it’s a truth.

Someone else’s opinion

is not your truth!

You must know your own truths, securing them in your heart and mind, so that when they are challenged you can take the criticism, measure it’s worth against your truth, pack away anything you want to work on later, then drop kick the rest off the field. Your truths must be in place NOW, secure and fixed. Write them down if you have to but don’t leave it until you’re dealing with criticism to decide what you believe because it ain’t gonna happen then!

I am a performer and, like you, still working on my ability to handle criticism but I’m getting stronger all the time, working toward a place where I am gracious and sure of my truths. So here are my truths.

Sherryl-Lee’s Truths

  1. I have sacrificed many things to participate in this production and I am giving it my entire focus, my passion and every skill I currently have.
  2. I have an open mind ready for all the things I will learn during rehearsals to make me a better performer.
  3. When I walk on stage I know that I am doing my very best for the audience. I am not half assing it out there. They get everything I have.
  4. Most of the general population would pee themselves just walking on the stage, let alone have to speak, sing or dance. I am already extraordinary.
  5. When I make a mistake in a performance I ALREADY KNOW IT! I don’t need someone else to point it out. I am already working through what I need to do to avoid the same mistake.
  6. This is live theatre and stuff happens. The unpredictability makes me feel far more alive than choosing a good avocado when I do my shopping.
  7. Everyone else is trying their very best, just like me. My criticism of them makes me a self righteous idiot, so shut up, Sherryl-Lee!

Build your own truth. Don’t wait for some critic to create it for you. Be passionate, expect more and be extraordinary!

Cheers, Sher.

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