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.

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


Brisbane community theatre needs red wine.

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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.

Using an Audition Pack to Improve Your Casting.


actor on stage 2Auditions bring out the Idiot in us. Whether we’re actors dealing with nerves, creatives listening to the same audition song 100 times over or company management directing nervous auditionees front of house, the process can be trying.

In governance, how you manage your audition process reflects on your company. If you’re a director, how you respond to your auditionees determines how well they show you what they are really capable of. As a performer, how you present your audition displays your skills and what you are like to work with.

The purpose of auditions is to cast a show however there is one very important thing to remember.

Community theatre does not exist to give actors work. It exists to give individuals in your community the opportunity to participate.

This means that your approach has to be about bringing out the best from people who generally don’t have audition skills. To put it bluntly, we can suck at auditioning but be fantastic in rehearsal and performance.

You’ll never be able to remove nerves completely. Auditions for performers will always feel like running with the bulls at Pamplona but here are some ways you can improve the process for everybody involved.

Creative Team:

This team should consist of the Director, Musical Director and Choreographer and a representative of the theatre company (This representative should ensure that company audition policies are observed. They should have not input into the casting process!)

The audition process is where you, as a director/musical director, can use your skills to delve deeper with an actor to get beyond the nerves. Let a performer present what they have prepared then, if you see potential, get out of your chair and work with them. Make some suggestions for technicque, delivery, both in acting and/or song and see if they can effect those changes. Working with an auditionee, one on one, can relax them and release what is hidden behind the nerves.

Don’t expect performance level at auditions – look for potential. Of course, you have to measure how much work that potential will take and whether you have time and resources to work with it.

REMEMBER: We’re not professional performers.  We generally aren’t trained in how to audition well.


Help yourself by being prepared. If you’re auditioning for a musical, choose a song (32 bars) that really shows off your vocal ability and perform it. Don’t just sing it. If you’re working with a script excerpt, learn it and be able to be script down. You cannot show acting ability with your face covered by a piece of A4. If you are asked to change something in your presentation, you will have a better chance of doing it if know your words.

I recommend taking the script into the audition space with you. Hold it for confidence but don’t plan to use it. If something happens and you throw up on your shoes at least you can refer to your script and get back on track.

Finally, follow instructions. If you are told not to present a piece from the show, don’t be the person that does. It makes you look arrogant and subconsciously it will be a tick against you in the teams minds because they now wonder if you are going to be that actor who can’t take direction.

Have you ever noticed that you can’t hear properly in an audition, or is that just me? It’s like a guaze curtain in front of your face. The director asks you to alter something and before you can process it you have to fight your way back through the gauze to your brain, which seems to be working in slow motion, to tell it what you want it to do. I love this phrase:

An amateur learns something until they know it; a professional learns something until they can’t forget it.

If your script and/or song are second nature to you, you’re going to have better recall and be able to implement the directors requests.

Company Governance:

Govern! I CAN’T YELL THIS LOUD ENOUGH! Your job is to provide a professional framework for the creatives to do their stuff. Audition management is not the job of the director. Develop a simple audition process that represents your company’s mission and gives consistency to every performers audition experience.

It’s your job to develop and manage the where, when, how, who and what of audition logistics. That includes things like the registration process, organising a pianist or playback equipment and managing audition forms and front of house. Please don’t make your director responsible for notifying cast and unsuccessful auditionees of the audition results. Someone representing the company should be doing this. Some unsuccessful auditionees tend to project their disappointment onto the director in a way they wouldn’t with a person not involved in the casting process.

Audition packs. Create one. You can use it to market your auditions but its primary purpose is to give performers every chance to prepare a great audition. Used consistently, and making it part of your registration process, an audition pack can make the management of auditions much easier because performers know what to expect. I’ve been using them for a few years now and I’ve created a template for you to download from the Idiot’s website to give you a starting point.

Finally, think about why you do auditions the way you do. Have you ever questioned your process? Does your process work for you? If not, shake things up, try something new and develop a better way to do things.

Cheers, Sher.

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