Go out and come back in again!

Have you ever considered how much we, as theatre creatives, experience ‘letting go’?
We’re constantly letting go of:
  • Expectations – how we envisaged our experience of a show would be;
  • Auditions – shows or characters we auditioned for and didn’t get;
  • Shows – ‘post show blues’ anyone?
  • People – not everyone we share a stage with is meant to be a lifelong friend.
I don’t think we realise how much we let go of. It can sometimes feel like we live in a constant state of grieving. We either learn to process this grief or we’re overwhelmed by it, allowing it to affect our relationships and stifle our creative growth, clinging to the familiar to avoid more pain. We end up stuck, in avoidance, never reaching our potential.
A few months ago, I buried my grandmother, a woman whose life made my own look like I lived under a rock. She was a theatre actress and director, an inspiration and teacher to myself and many others over a 60 year career. As I sat listening to the tributes from actors she had directed over the years, the same phrase kept coming up.

“Go out and come back in again.”

Over and over, this phrase was repeated until I felt like Granny was speaking directly to me.
“Sherryl-Lee, go out and come back in again.”
Pondering this phrase over the last few months, I realised something. Going out and coming back in again, implies change. You’re not meant to come back in as you left. You’re meant to spend your “off time” considering your position, your choices and how you want to move your character (life) forward. If you come back in exactly the way you left, you’ve missed an opportunity.
Coming back in doesn’t need to involve some massive revelation. It may simply be a choice to improve your performance skills, consistently arrive on time to rehearsals or be more positive in your self talk.
The decision to go out and come back in again is also not a one off action. You do it constantly throughout life. This allows us to accept failure as part of our process, instead of the enemy most of us view it as. If you get something wrong, simply go out and come back in again – and be better.
Granny, I’m going out and when I come back in, I’ve determined to be braver, more protective of my time and, in honour of your courageous approach to life, refuse to make decisions based on what I think others want of me.
One day, I want my tributes to say, “she went out and came back in – fierce!”


Sherryl-Lee Secomb is An Idiot On Stage. The Idiot exists to encourage and equip community theatre to expect more and be extraordinary.

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Be a courageous donkey rider, not the donkey!

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I see you.

I see you hiding.

I see you hiding behind your big laugh; your awkward attempts to enter the community you so desperately want to belong to.

I see you hiding behind the safe wall of conformity, doing what you’ve always done because it doesn’t ask you to risk anything.

I see you holding it together because your anxiety feels like it’s going to expose you as the fraud you believe you are.

I see you, and if you want to continue hiding, that’s ok. But if you are tired of hiding; if you know you have more to offer or you simply want to explore the possibilities; to sit on the edge and contemplate what it would be like to try, then I will be there.

I will be that person who provides the booted foot up your behind when you consider giving up because you didn’t get the role you auditioned for.

I will be that person who faithfully reminds you that perseverance and study are the keys to success, not a pretty Instagram feed, or that review that told you that you were God’s gift to the stage.

I will be that person who brings the truth of your potential as a performer into your self defeating conversation, and when you’ve sat too long in the camp of self pity, I will arrive on my trusty donkey, raise my sword up high and shout, “Get up, you ass! You’ve got a lot still to try and the time is now!” (Rides awkwardly away on donkey).

Where the heck did you get the idea that this was going to be a smooth run? Life is an endless tech week, an amazing blend of euphoria and horror, held together with the threads of a script that often feels as if it’s been written in a foreign language.

But what’s the alternative for you? If you didn’t have something to create, what would you be doing? Yes, sometimes you need to get off that stage and allow other areas of life to take top billing but, my dear, it’s time to change the show. It was wonderful. Now turn the page on this masterpiece and move on.

You see, you’ve convinced yourself that you’re no longer able, that there isn’t a role for you in the next section of this massive production going on around you. You’re hiding again, protecting yourself with the lie that your time has passed.

Stop hiding and accept that you can’t play the same character all through life. The show changes. Lean into the change, equip yourself to play a new character. It will take time and energy, perseverance and courage but your alternative is spending your entire life as a ‘wing dweller’. Don’t you want to feel the warmth of the spotlight again?

You know you do. Standing on that stage, looking out into the house and drinking in that inexplicable joy (cue inspirational music and cinematic pan shot).

You mustn’t stop learning. Stay open to each new season and surround yourself with people who will encourage you; a bunch of courageous donkey riders who will raise their swords for you, yelling truth, and reminding you that you’re never finished.

Not until that final curtain.

And even then you’re not leaving quietly!

Cheers, Sher.

Sherryl-Lee Secomb is An Idiot On Stage.

Learn more > www.anidiotonstage.com.au

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“Encouraging and equipping community theatre to expect more and to be extraordinary!”

Brisbane community theatre needs red wine.

what if scrabble

A few weeks ago, I had a wonderful conversation with a theatre colleague about what it’s like to work in community theatre in Brisbane. I came home excited and empowered to do more, not because what we had talked about had never been thought of before but because we had the same thoughts about the challenges and possibilities for community theatre.

One of the difficulties of sharing your thoughts online (in my case this Idiot project) is that you can feel like you are living in your own head. To share ideas, possibilities and challenges with like minded people, face to face, fires you up to make an impact, to keep going and look for ways to encourage change.

I love to be on stage but what really fires me up is directing because I have the opportunity to facilitate others in creating something that challenges them to grow and be extraordinary. Sharing the Idiot’s passion for community theatre and how it can impact individuals and groups means putting myself out there for others to love or hate and I’m ok with that. What I fear the most is creating no reaction at all.

I want to share big freaky possibilities with others who think the same way I do. I want to sit at a large dining table, enjoying good food, drinking a little wine and listening to wonderful conversations happening around me. Conversations that are free of ego and centre around passion, courage, drive and possibilities for Brisbane community theatre.

If we’re going to encourage others from a position of strength and skill, we have to create an atmosphere of support that allows for the impossible to be considered possible; where phrases like “we’ve always done it this way”  are faced with a united force that challenges the norm.

I want to be part of a group of big thinkers that get beyond talking and actually create change that will help our community theatre scene thrive.

If you’re reading this today and it seriously sparks your passion in the same way, you might be one of the Idiots I’m seeking to join me, to think big and imagine what would happen if …

Think about it.

Cheers, Sher.

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.