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Anyone do AmDram? AIBU?

(62 Posts)
YourNewspaperIsShit Mon 18-Jul-16 19:39:26

More like would it be unreasonable

So i would love to join one of my local Amateur Dramatic Societies and be on stage I think it would be really good for me, i was a competitive dancer from when I was really young but haven't touched a stage in 11 years. I found the competition side of things really traumasing. It turns out I am High Functioning Autistic and that would explain where my difficulties lay.

Any way I literally dream about singing and dancing, etc. I don't have many friends and I'm a SAHM and don't even have any hobbies. I'm getting really low about it to be honest.

Here's the problems:

1) I don't know how I'm going to cope until I try it, i may have to quit or I may get very upset if something goes wrong (not during a performance more like practicing and getting frustrated). WIBU to expect them to be ok with that? Surely it would hinder other people sad

2) I also have kids and if my OH is at work when rehearsal is then I likely won't be able to attend, i don't know if that's something they're used to or something that means I can't join.

3) I find meeting new people very difficult, sometimes I come across as either very scared or annoying/giddy and I know it's important to be a team member so WIBU to expect everyone to give me a bit of space to integrate and understand what's going on?

4) I have visible tattoos and facial dermal piercings (you can't take them out). So obviously they might think being in character/costume is impossible for me. Although I've thought it through and there's cover-up makeup and I believe I'm good enough with SFX makeup that I could latex over the piercings and blend with my skin.

I've never done it before and think I'm probably asking too much from others. Be brutal, would you say I just can't do it and should find something else? I've tried other hobbies but i was on stage since 2 years old I know it's where I want to be.

Lovewineandchocs Mon 18-Jul-16 19:43:39

Just give it a shot and don't overthink it. You won't know until you try! grin

CrotchetQuaverMinim Mon 18-Jul-16 19:47:07

How open are you prepared to be about the fact you have high-functioning autism? If you explained, then I think it would be easier for people to accommodate you with points 1 and 3. I don't think they'd necessarily understand what was happening or know to give you extra space etc, without some indication that there was a reason. Similarly, if you think you are going to get upset enough that it might hinder other people, then I imagine they would be more OK with it if you explained in advanced, warned how you might react, suggested how they might respond that would help you, etc. I don't think people would be deliberately unsympathetic, but if they had no idea there were underlying reasons, then it might be a problem. Can you find any ways of dealing with that sort of upset, and put some coping strategies into place in advance, with their help if needed?

Number 2 probably depends hugely on the group itself, and their schedules and ability to be flexible. Some groups will be able to do that, others probably have more rules about how many you need to come to, or how much notice you have to give about ones you will miss. Can you get babysitters for some of the times, like if there were final rehearsals, etc?

No idea about number 4, I'm afraid; it might be worth covering them with the make up the first time you go for casting, just to show them how possible it is to cover it up, or take photographs?

good luck. I hope you can find a group that suits you. Remember that there might be quite a few different ones in an area with different rules and atmospheres and standards, and just because one isn't right for you, doesn't mean that others won't be. I know more about music groups in my area, but even there, there are many groups that sound superficially similar, but are actually very different in the way they run and what the group feel is like.

littleprincesssara Mon 18-Jul-16 19:49:19

Best thing to do is research your local amdram groups, and see when their rehearsals are and what kind of commitment they ask for. You could always start out very small, e.g. volunteering to help out behind the scenes for one show to get a feel for things and see what they're like, or audition for a very small/chorus role.

teacher54321 Mon 18-Jul-16 19:50:36

Hello! I've done lots of am dram over the years. Tattoos and piercings not a problem, personality not a problem, unreliability regarding attending rehearsals will be a problem particularly in the lead up to shows. Having said that, if you're an ex competitive dancer then most societies will bite your hand off! Some am dram groups are lovely, some are horrifically bitchy. It's impossible to know before you try. Good luck!

CarlGrimesMissingEye Mon 18-Jul-16 19:55:52

Just sign up and join in. I've done AmDram all my life and been at my current theatre a decade now. I love it. We wouldn't care about piercings etc. Who does these days. Why not give it a try. It's a great way to meet people.

Where are you. If you're in the North East I know lots of the theatres up here smile

LIZS Mon 18-Jul-16 20:04:24

I would n't have thought it would necessarily be a problem. Most shows would expect a minimum attendance at rehearsals but it would depend on schedule and character. For chorus there would be more leeway and less time commitment until near the show dates. Would offering to help backstage be an option initially so you get to know how it works and what is expected as that would involve less rehearsal time. Or maybe joining a community choir to get you used to performing and mixing with people in that way.

MadameJosephine Mon 18-Jul-16 20:07:44

carlgrimes I'm in the north east and have always fancied giving it a go, where would you recommend for a complete novice?

Ionacat Mon 18-Jul-16 20:09:13

There are lots of groups around and it is a case of finding one that suits you. The one I belong to would be fine with piercing and tattoos and explain that you need some space when meeting new people. Mine doesn't audition chorus so anyone can take part. With rehearsals we give out the schedule in advance and it's fine to miss the odd rehearsal until you get nearer tne show. However I now have a long list of teenage babysitters and retired people thanks to my group all willing to help out and babysit! I'm in South/South East if you want any recommendations.

trafalgargal Mon 18-Jul-16 20:13:02

If you get frustrated picking up routines AND you'd be missing a lot of rehearsals then it doesn't sound fair on the rest of the cast. Reliability for rehearsals is important but if you treat it as a social activity can't you get babysitters for when your husband can't be there ?

If you get a reputation for poor reliability you simply won't get good parts so a lot depends on what kinds of parts you see yourself doing.. AmDram standards can be very high indeed in some groups - for others it's more about the socializing.

Maybe book for some productions and see what the vibe is like at different groups.

CarlGrimesMissingEye Mon 18-Jul-16 20:52:23

Broadly where are you Madame. when I'm at the computer I'll PM said you're close to me we're always after new and enthusiastic members smile

CarlGrimesMissingEye Mon 18-Jul-16 20:54:33

*as if

Not said

MadameJosephine Tue 19-Jul-16 15:14:03

I live in Birtley carl

ginnybag Tue 19-Jul-16 15:36:55

If you're open with people, it shouldn't be an issue. I co-run an AmDram group and would have no issue with most of that.

The only thing that might be, might be attendance at rehearsals. This is important, particularly close to a show and it is unfair on the rest of the cast if you're unreliable.

That said, how old are your kids? Depending on them, you could always do what I do, and take them with you! Our rehearsals usually come with a crowd of kids of various ages, some in the productions and some not depending on them, and all our shows have a 'quiet' room attached to them. It works well.

ProudAS Tue 19-Jul-16 16:43:52

I'm autistic and am dram has been great for my confidence - not just the acting but running sound, stage management etc.

Do find a friendly group though. Some can be a bit cliquey or downright rude to backstage crew.

CarlGrimesMissingEye Tue 19-Jul-16 16:57:43

I've sent you a PM MadameJosephine as you aren't far from me at all!

FoggyBottom Tue 19-Jul-16 17:19:33

If you join a well-established amdram society it would be quite rare for you to go into a speaking role in a show straight away. So you can just slow down, and stop borrowing trouble from the future.

It's best to learn the ropes (sometimes literally) by doing back stage work. Making & caring for costumes, rigging & operating the lighting, recording & operating the sound, assistant stage manager and so on.

BUT you'll be required to work as part of a team, under the command of the stage manager, the production manager, and the director, designer, and lighting designer. And musical director if it's a musical. You'll need to be prepared to do what is asked of you, in a timely quiet way, and often under considerable pressure. memories of 12 hour tech rehearsals

If you dance, can you sing? If so, you could audition for a chorus role. But be aware that if you showed frustration in rehearsals in a disruptive way, you may not stay in the show.

Re facial piercings etc - if they can't be removed or covered up, well, YABU to want to perform. The idea of performing is not to "express yourself" - it's to make the audience feel something.

Good amdram is run much like professional theatre, and it's no place for divas.

Witchend Tue 19-Jul-16 17:25:55

I'm involved in various am dram locally through the children.

I think what I'd say is:
1. Try joining one as chorus/small part first. If you drop out from a big part it can be a major hassle. And they'll not want you again. Plus (round here) most of the am drams have big overlaps so it may well effect you joining other ones.
2. Be open with them. I come from having had a few years ago a situation where a director commented to me that one person, having done an amazing audition, was really struggling in rehearsals and he thought he might have to ask him to step down. I knew from knowing the family that actually there was SEN in play there that was causing the issues, and once I persuaded him to go and talk about them the director was very understanding and helpful. However before that it just had come across and not able to do it.
3. It probably depends on what parts you want to go for whether piercings etc. are an issue. Actually round here, unless they were in character, it would probably be something they would ask if removable at audition and it might well count you out. Some wouldn't want it even in chorus. Certainly the bigger companies it would be a no go.
4. Rehearsing, rather strangely I think the bigger companies tend to be more relaxed about missing some rehearsals. They usually like you to let them know beforehand though. If you're good they give you more leeway grin
The am dram I'm most involved with is once a week rehearsing, missing for only exceptional reasons (granny's 70th fine, friends party no) because someone missing effects the whole set up, and we don't have that many rehearsals. If you explained beforehand that you would have that set up then they would consider it carefully before asking you to commit.
It also would depend on how often and how much notice you could give of missing. If you're talking about every other rehearsal, then no. If you're saying, well it might happen 1-2 times in 6 months then it probably will be fine.
5. One thing to consider is offering to do makeup/stage crew at first. That way you can get to know them without the huge commitment of every week. Most companies are delighted when someone decides to move over from backstage to frontstage. And then they've got to know you and are more inclined to make allowances than to a total newcomer.

MrsHathaway Tue 19-Jul-16 17:51:27

The more casual the group, the easier they'll find it to accommodate you. Our local pantomime group coped with the fact I could only make 2/3 of rehearsals and needed to bring my baby to most of those!

The group has links with the local special school and we do an abridged performance for the residents at the end of the run. We're far more about inclusion than professional-standard performances, and some of our younger members have obvious additional needs.

Which is to say that the right company will welcome you with open arms and kind understanding ... but that's unlikely to be the company that produces the Broadway-standard show.

GoblinLittleOwl Tue 19-Jul-16 17:58:30

Audition for a company and see if you are accepted, but you must be prepared to attend all the rehearsals required; if your husband can't be home you have to arrange a babysitter. You can't turn up at will; it affects other people in rehearsal as well as you.
If you have been on stage since you were two you will know expectations will be high and you won't be treated gently by a producer who wants the best performance possible, amateur or professional. If they don't bother about attendance then they are not a very good company, and it will show in performance.
That said, it's the best thing in the world to do and you will get so much out of it if you take it seriously.

YourNewspaperIsShit Tue 19-Jul-16 21:50:12

Thank you everyone for your replies so far!

Im in the north west coast, and our locals do seem professional to the point my piercings couldn't be shown on stage but nothing like the stuff you'd see in a city.

Although I can assure you I'm not a Diva trying to "express myself" sad Bit of a shit thing to say, I just want some friends and enjoy doing this kind of thing. Im pretty confident i can cover up the two piercings I can't remove with liquid latex as they are just diamond studs but never tried to cover my tattoos before. I'm definitely going to take the suggestion of doing that for my first meeting/audition and then any subsequent practices when they aren't covered they will at least know I'm able to.

I think the suggestions to do Make-up, stage crew, etc were really helpful coz then i could know the group before trying to put myself out there! Anything technical would actually make me panic more than performing but I can sing so hopefully could do chorus. Then if it's a bit cliquey I could leave without disappointing anyone too much (I'm not trying to be a Diva but do think I'm skilled enough to be chosen for a part, not lead maybe but I've sang/danced/acted in front of others and they enjoyed it).

My DP works shifts so if rehearsal was at 5pm on a Thursday I would possibly miss every 4th one unless in the run-up where I could put pressure on him for time off. Don't have any babysitters for DS, if you can take kids that's good but DS is 5 months so he might not like it confused My other DC is 3 but much easier to get a babysitter for (separate dad's).

I think you're right about needing to be open with my SN, my main problem with that is it's a small town and not many people know so it would almost be like 'coming out' for me which is a big step.

trafalgargal Wed 20-Jul-16 05:46:34

The odds of a 5pm rehearsal are low as most people work so will be in the evenings 7pm start is far more likely.
Some/most groups won't want a baby potentially interrupting rehearsals and definitely not a toddler . Maybe you should investigate finding a babysitter (no reason why you need two babysitters because the kids have two different Dads unless you mean your OH won't look after the toddler and just the baby ....not sure why it's relevant otherwise)

trafalgargal Wed 20-Jul-16 05:48:00

You don't need to tell the whole group at the beginning just your director.

CarlGrimesMissingEye Wed 20-Jul-16 07:31:35

We rehearse from 7:15pm two nights a week and Sunday's. To be fair, if you want to on stage or part of a stage crew you HAVE to be able to commit to rehearsals. I direct too and unreliability is the single biggest no-no, closely followed by constantly taking the piss.

If you aren't able to make the commitment start out doing front of house, costume, set building etc. You get to know people and don't have to worry so much about letting people down.

Every amateur theatre is slightly different, with different processes and set up. They are wonderful crazy places to be involved in.

Beware though. Once you're in its addictive. And you'll probably end up on a committee.

Katastrophe13 Wed 20-Jul-16 07:53:39

I belonged to a community amdram group for years. The purpose of the group was for all people to be given a chance to try something new, whether that be writing, acting, choreographing, costume making etc. We had two members with ASD and all the members were aware and it wasn't a problem. Rehearsals always started around 7.30pm, which i think is pretty standard, apart from the weekend before a show where we would have a full day tech rehearsal. I don't think piercings or tattoos would have been an issue. The only thing we were strict on was attendance, apart from very minor roles, but even they were expected at every rehearsal close to show time. If you can sort some childcare I definitely think you should go for it, and as another poster said, if it doesn't work out first time, keep looking, as there will be a group out there that suits you. Break a leg smile

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