So You Want To Be An Actor?

An Original Commentary By Adolfo Arias taken from the 1953 program for "Pretty Lady"

Many a youngster has nourished the idea of "going on the stage" at one time or another. In most cases he learns, if nothing else, the true meaning of the worn out phrase "all that glitters is not gold" and so eventually he will abandon his dreams of becoming a thespian and turn to more practical and commonplace projects.

What causes this change of heart? Isn't the prospective doctor or lawyer faced with as arduous a road ahead? Isn't it just as necessary for him to jump or trip over as many hurdles to acquire a clientele before his name begins to mean something?

Nevertheless, a future doctor or lawyer seems to take this for granted. Usually he accepts beatings, works hard, and eventually sees his struggles rewarded by achieving his goal.

Not so with the average embryonic actor. With him, most of his dreams will remain just that, dreams, never materializing because the foundations aren't sound and the approach not sincere.

In the majority of cases, he will place more importance on how an audience reacts then to how he himself, is acting. He will spend more time contemplating his features in a mirror than in examining the emotions in his soul. He will make a greater effort to bask in the glamour of success surrounding the theater then in perfecting the technique that makes good theater.

Why is this strange fancy usually limited to aspirants to the boards? You hardly ever find a "private" planning to become a "general" in one year, or a Novie - a Cardinal, by taking a trip to Rome.

Yet many an amateur will pack his bag, and armed with his scrap-book and a few glossy photographs, head for New York, prepared to conquer "The Great White Way" in one season.The reason is that while not everyone will dare go on maneuvers, officiate a religious service or perform an appendectomy without previous training, almost anyone can get up on a stage, if he gets the urge to emote. If he happens to have a good memory, and takes direction well, he will very likely be chosen to appear in a public performance. That is when Dionysus steps in and taps his shoulder making him a life member of the thespian fraternity. That man or woman who, by an act of his own free will, has now become an actor will never be the same; the die has been cast. If he happens to be young,all of his former plans will probably go out the window and he is ready to enlist in the files of Coquelin, Irving and Duse.

The repeated applause, The congratulations from admirers and the encouraging lines of kind or not too veresed critics will gradually swing the balance and send him running to his piggy-bank or to his papa's aid. In these cases, he won't take no for an answer and soon he will find himself passing through the door of the plane or bus that will lead him to the open arms of Logan and Hammerstein. This will probably be the last door he will find open in a long, long time.

Once in thye "BIG CITY", he is ready for work, but soon find out that so are a few thousand others just like him except that a great many have appeared in previous shows while others have drifted in from drama schools, stock companies, radio, TV or the movies. He finds it tough to get interviews, even an agent, because he has no "credits" in professional experience. All he has is the best intentions and enough money to last him six months - The usual time limit conceded by parents, to open on Broadway. To remedy his shortcomings, he begins to attend shows.

"Variety" occupies his lunch time and serves as reference in discussions. Records of "La Bankhead" and "Gertie" are played interminably. He is not working, or doing much to achieve that end, but he "is basking in the glamour of theatre" while waiting for the big break.

"Tempus fugit" and so does "pecunia" and like thousands of others, since the awaited "break" didn't come, he prudently returns to his home, his girl and his interrupted course in beetle breeding. But above all, he will be back to the town's little theatre where he will soon be receiving applause, raving criticisms and advice to "try Broadway."