Written by DMA summer intern Mackey Almy, who just completed her first year of study at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
This summer, I completed my second internship at DMA, which allowed me to further venture into the world of public relations as well as increase my knowledge of the fresh produce industry. I have not only gained an understanding of the business of marketing but also expanding my knowledge of the acting training I received over the past year. Now, you may be thinking, “How can a public relations internship expand your understanding of acting—and vice versa?” But the reality is that many of the lessons from the classroom can apply to anyone who wants to be successful while working with a group of people.
Workplace Lessons to Learn From Drama School
The cast of Hamilton and your organization are the same thing (sort of)
In contemporary dance, my teacher refers to our class as a “company,” rather than as “students” or a “class,” because in essence, that is what we are: a group of people who work together to achieve shared goals. We are not simply individuals focused exclusively on our own advancement, but rather, an ensemble of talent that serves to support one another. This philosophy can be applied to any workspace. You and your fellow coworkers are each a piece of a “machine”, a moving part that is crucial for proper functioning. No one person can successful without others; if you or one of your coworkers stopped working, the machine would break down!
You have already won the competition
Upon beginning my freshman year, my classmates and I were told that our education was not a competition, that we were not competing to beat others—and that if there were a competition, we had already won because the prize was getting in to the program. That same approach can be applied to the workplace: you have already won. You have already been hired, you are in the door, and YOU were chosen—for a reason—to be a part of the ensemble. Your coworkers are here to lift you up and support you, and you are here to do the same.
Don’t be mistaken, acting is not about you.
There is a common misconception that in acting, you always focus inward and use your personal experiences to facilitate your personal success. Drawing from personal experiences does, of course, bring an understanding of your role. Theoretically, actors could just focus on when to say their lines and completely disregard what is happening around them until they hear their cue. It is very easy to disregard a scene partner and the weight of their words—and even the corresponding relationship to your role—because you are waiting to have the audience’s attention again.
Similarly, it can be easy to focus on your own work, disregard what is happening around you in the office, and fall into waiting for your “moment in the spotlight.” However, working in a company and industry in which we all depend so heavily on each other, that approach will never lead to long-term success, especially when people are relying on you.
What it takes for an ensemble to succeed
For an ensemble to be successful, every member must be connected to and aware of everyone around them. If you focus on just yourself as an actor, the audience will notice—and view your performance as inauthentic (because that’s not how people operate in the real world!). In the case of a traditional professional setting, if you were to focus on only your own success, your clients, your co-workers, and your boss will notice too—and see you the same way a theatre-goer views self-absorbed performers.
Remember that your workplace relationships are fundamental to your success, whether individually, as a company, or as an industry. We all have a part to play, and our efforts should serve to generate personal and professional growth, to support everyone around us, and at the end of the day, to elevate the status of food that is grown.
Have something to add? Leave us a comment below or reach out to us on Twitter @TheCoreBlog!