“Just Begin!” Taking back your passion for community theatre.


As I took my seat at the meeting table, I struggled with the overwhelming desire to scream. Scream at the people sitting around me; scream in the face of every decision made; scream at the fact that I couldn’t develop any enthusiasm for the one place in the world I loved so much – my local theatre company. I was angry at the world for using me up and taking advantage of the fact that I was a passionate ‘doer’ of things.

The passion and enthusiasm I had once shared with my team members had dissolved into a cynical, bitter, angry mess of tears that threatened to spill out with the least provocation. I couldn’t remember the days of freedom to create, joy in sharing my passion with my theatre community, excited by the goals the team was working towards.

A beautiful woman serving on the team with me, noticed my unusual state and privately challenged me to acknowledge my burnout and reconsider my approach. As I sat on my couch all those years ago, considering what my friend had said, I was shocked to realise something.

I recognised that I was the problem!

I had allowed myself to get beyond passion into being driven. Once I got over myself, I determined to make the changes necessary to allow me to function effectively and have the positive impact I dreamed of. Change is constant and ongoing but what I learned has been the basis of many conversations with colleagues experiencing what I did all those years ago. So fire up your ‘self awareness’ and think about this –

Being DRIVEN means

  1. Boundaries are exploited and you say ‘yes’ too much;
  2. You stop listening to others and yourself; and
  3. You feel you are the only one who can fix everything.

Being PASSIONATE means

  1. You set boundaries that ironically making you more effective. You are deliberate in your choices and ‘no’ is acknowledged as valuable.
  2. Passion wants the input of others, to share ideas, to be encouraged, and to encourage. It listens and values other opinions and it is self aware.
  3. You are not alone, you acknowledge the team and seek to include others.

So how do you get from there to here? How do you recover from burnout or even a loss of passion? All I can offer is what I learned for myself. It involved being willing to make decisions, large and small, and began with one simple thought – just begin.

“Just begin!”

Begin by acknowledging what you really want.

Do you want to help out front of house or are you excited by encouraging change within the culture of your community theatre company? Every role in your local theatre company is valuable, regardless of its prominence. Be prepared to help out where and when necessary but don’t be pushed into a role you know you’re not suited to, long term.

Begin by recognising what you’re good at or what really fires you up.

You have a gift for something. Don’t give me the humble bit – “I’m not good at anything.” – That is total rubbish. You are. Find it, own it and do it! The mistake you’ve probably made is trying to work outside your gifts and talents. You compare yourself to others and try to function in a role that doesn’t suit you. Choosing to do something you’re not suited to will lead to stress, burnout and being a pain in the behind to all who have to work with you.

Let me figuratively slap you around a little here. You will never be happy trying to be something you’re not built for. Acknowledge your gifting, work in it, and get good at it. There is nothing to compare with the feeling you get when you know you’re doing what you were built to do, and seeing the positive impact you can have will bring you immeasurable joy.

Begin by learning to be really good in your gifting.

Get better. Study, learn and practice your skills. This is a forever thing. Enjoy the process. You’re going to make mistakes. Acknowledge mistakes as a step to improvement, not a wall to stop you. I know it’s cliche but if I could get back all the hours I wasted letting my mistakes bring me down, I would be ecstatic. It is the biggest waste of freakin’ time!

Mistakes don’t make you a bad person, they don’t make you a stupid person, they don’t mean you will never get where you’re going. They mean you are taking a risk and actually living life, and anyone who tells you different needs to get out of your way and go back to sitting on their big fat behinds, achieving nothing in this world!

Keep seeking. Keep moving forward. Keep your eyes and ears open. Don’t talk so much. Listen more. Learn more. Say ‘no’ more. Be deliberate in your plan for your theatre life. Don’t let it just happen to you. You’ve got this!

Cheers, Sher.

sher-profile-image-2016Sherryl-Lee Secomb is the “Idiot On Stage”.

The Idiot exists to encourage and equip community theatre to expect more and be extraordinary. Learn more about the Idiot at www.anidiotonstage.com.au, follow on Facebook, Instagram and enjoy hundreds of theatre resources on the Idiot’s Pinterest boards.

Oh, and I’d love it if you would share this post.

Don’t Stew the Fish.

Don't Stew the Fish

How do you deal with difficult people in the theatre? You know the ones; always rude or short tempered, who seem to have no concept or care about their impact on those around them. If you’re anything like me, your first reaction is to smack ’em round the head with a wet fish. Of course, your second reaction should be to fry the fish and move on but you don’t. You stew the fish instead, having the conversation you wish you’d had, over and over in your mind. Snappy smack downs that make you look like a hero but totally destroy the dignity of the offender. Yep, that feels good for about a minute and then you remember it’s all in your head and nothing has changed. You still have to turn up to your next rehearsal and live in the real world, only now it’s worse because all you’ve ‘rehearsed’ is your verbal destruction of the other person.

Good grief, I hate passive aggressive behaviour. I hate it because I’ve done it and when I’ve allowed myself to do it, I feel like a 14 year old girl; no control and no brains (sorry 14 year old girl). I’ve realised that this approach to life is a complete waste of my mental energy. It’s taken me a long time to figure this out but I want to share 4 lessons I’ve learned the hard way.

If you want to get on with those you work with in community theatre you have to accept these 4 truths – 

  1. Not everyone is going to like you.
  2. You can’t take offence at things that don’t matter.
  3. Respect for others is required to live with 1 and 2.
  4. You’re a grown up.

Not everyone is going to like you. When I started the Idiot project I was determined to be myself. That meant owning what I said, telling it like I saw it and loving the people I write for – the people of community theatres. I know I can be strong but that’s who I am and I speak what I believe. The reason I do this is because I am so passionate about encouraging community theatre to be more. I love everything about what we all do and I am determined to make an impact while I am on this planet.

That said, I’m human and if I let my guard down, I can creep into people pleasing mode. Ironically, the blog posts that have the most impact are the ones where I am true to myself, strong and not aiming to please but rather to equip.

You’re gong to have to accept that you’re not everyone’s cup of tea – and that’s ok.

Be truthful and honest with yourself otherwise you’ll miss many great years, too busy being a version of yourself that you were not meant to be. Be brave and own it. The world needs the real you and you deserve to spend your life as a real human. It can be tough to realise that not everyone you meet will like you but if you want a full life, you’re gong to have to accept that you’re not everyone’s cup of tea – and that’s ok.

Can we please stop behaving like 14 year olds when someone steps out of line and offends us. You know what I mean – someone makes an off hand remark that is insensitive and instead of maturely challenging them on it, we clam up and behave like a school child in the principal’s office.

How about we try being grown-ups and set some boundaries for ourselves. The truth is we can allow people to speak to us that way. If they are insensitive and rude, that’s on them. But if we allow them to continue to be insensitve and rude, that’s on us. By the way, stand up for those who are fragile and unable to set boundaries. “Use the force for good, Luke”.

Be a grown-up and quietly tell them that you don’t allow people to speak to you that way and that they need to find another way to communicate with you – you have that right. 99.9% of the time, they will be shocked, mortified or at least embarrassed.

The trick is respect. As difficult as it is, you have to swallow that tirade you’d like to unleash. Be unemotional, speak quietly and respectfully. You may not end up friends, and that’s ok. Your objective is to set up boundaries of communication that allow you both to work together.

Here’s a secret: you don’t have to love everyone you work with but you do have to treat them respectfully. Theatre people get way too emotional far too quickly. Keep your heads, people.

A note to those of you who speak from a heart of contempt for others or are just insensitive, arrogant and rude – get your head out of your arse and learn that you are not the centre of the universe. Respect those around you as people with lives outside the theatre, with difficulties and struggles, and open your eyes to the potential in every person. If you truly don’t like what you’re doing, get out and find where you’re really meant to be. If you are accidentally insensitive or so stressed that your words are a reaction to your life, own it and apologise.

Finally, a word to leaders/directors – company culture comes from the top down. The group reflects the leadership. Make sure you’re reflecting the right stuff.

More red wine.


Facebook: An Idiot on Stage   |   Instagram: SherSecomb

Finding the grace of a Disney heroine.


An Idiot On Stage Blog Post  16July15

“Red Wine for Idiots” is a series of filmed conversations with community theatre performers, producers and directors and it’s my way of bringing the experience and teaching of others to the amateur theatre community. Its sole purpose is to equip and encourage, not to mention having some fun.

My first guest was Kate Milward, who scored the role of Belle in a large-scale production of Beauty and the Beast straight out of high school. Might sound like a fairytale but you soon learn you have to bring your game on when you’re working with a professional director and other cast members with years of experience and training.

This young lady did it with style and grace and shares some of her biggest lessons in this interview.

This theatre thing is a lot of fun but it’s absolutely BRILLIANT when you share it. Have a great week.

Cheers, Sher.

An Idiot on Stage is written by Sherryl-Lee Secomb to equip and encourage community theatre to expect more and be extraordinary.

anidiotonstage.com.au   |   facebook/anidiotonstage