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Two summers ago, I sent an email out of the blue to the box office manager at the GCTC, asking if there were any positions available. Little did I know that working in the box office would make me a better actor, and bring so many amazing opportunities my way!
In the time between that summer and now, I’ve performed on the GCTC mainstage, across the country, and this summer, I will be performing as Puck in A Company of Fools’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in parks all around Ottawa.
Here are 10 acting tips I picked up in the GCTC box office:
Remember to Listen
“Acting is reacting,” some people say. But I think that acting is listening, too. Onstage, you have to respond to the needs of your scene partner, and really listen to what they’re saying in order to give them (or not give them) what they want. The same can be said of the box office: you have to listen to what your loyal patrons want and need – in order to give them what they want, and make sure the show starts smoothly.
Onstage, if you’re not prepared, you’re not going to know what you’re doing, and you might look like a fool during the show. In the box office, if you’re not prepared, with those tickets ready to go, the show might not even start! So be prepared, print your tickets, and learn your lines!
Go with the Flow
You can prepare all you want, but sometimes, life throws you curveballs and you have no choice but to run with it, both onstage and in the box office. Whether it’s a group of 30 people, all wanting last minute tickets in the front row, or a surprise line-delivery from your scene partner, all you can do is run with it, and be present in the moment.
Know What You Want
As an actor, clarity is one of your best tools: you have to know exactly what your objective is, and how you’re going to achieve it. But getting over 250 people to take their seats in a dark theatre in under 5 minutes is one of the most challenging objectives I’ve ever encountered, so in the box office, you better know what you want!
Show Up on Time
As an actor, your time is valuable of course, but you’re just one member of a huge team, whose time is valuable as well, so you had better show up on time. In the box office, the show starts at 8, no questions asked, so you had better be there.
Show Up Early
If you’re not five minutes early, you’re five minutes late!
Don’t Get In Anyone’s Way
Onstage, you have to be mindful of your sightlines, and not blocking any of your fellow actors. The same goes for your teammates in the box office – it’s a small space!
A three hour show can be a long time to go without a snack – and a shift in the box office is an even longer one! Chips, cookies and soda water are all accepted, both backstage and in the box office.
Everyone’s Got a Job to Do
As an actor, you’re just one member of a very large team, and often you’re the one people see and interact with. The box office is the same way: the box office is on the front lines, ensuring that all the theatre patrons have a great time at the theatre, but they’re just one face in a very large team. Be respectful of every single one of your colleagues. Often, they’re working much harder than you for much less credit.
If you stick to these guidelines, you’ll have fun onstage and off. And who knows? You might even get a free snack!
Details for A Company of Fools A Midsummer Night's Dream can be found at www.fools.ca.
Mahalia Golnosh Tahririha is ecstatic and grateful to be returning to Ottawa for the summer in order to performer with A Company of Fools. Originally from North Vancouver, BC, and now splitting her time between Ottawa and Montreal, she holds an Honours BA in Theatre and Psychology Summa Cum Laude, and is completing an MA in Theatre, both from the University of Ottawa. Mahalia also works as an arts administrator with Fresh Meat, in Ottawa, and the Centaur Theatre Company, in Montreal. She is thankful for the support of her colleagues, family and friends and their tolerance of her bad jokes.