Let’s face it–there’s a lot to hate about trying to make a living as an actor (or dancer, or writer, or artist). Fear of rejection, 65 hour weeks with no overtime, breaking out from wearing cake makeup a few too many nights in a row…you know, important stuff.
Then there’s the other stuff. You know, the little inane things that for some reason make you disproportionately irritated. At the top of that list for me is the program bio.
You’re in the rehearsal sweet spot–past the getting-familiar jitters and before the off-book deadline–when comes the dreaded email. “We’ve got the ASM/House Manager/my mom putting together a program for us! If you could just jot off a quick bio to add that would be GREAT! KTHANKS!” Seems like such a small request. Yet when first asked to do this, I immediately wonder if there isn’t an urgent priority I need to attend to right away. A ringing phone, or a fridge full of moldy food that needs cleaning out, perhaps. Then invariably I receive a follow up email a few weeks later with the not-especially-scary threat that anyone who doesn’t turn in their bio TODAY will NOT BE IN THE PROGRAM! Then I feel bad (even though, honestly, how horrible would it be if I wasn’t in the program?).
In order to combat my serial procrastination, I finally starting collecting bios into a document as I write them, to cull from later. This was working out pretty well, until the devastating loss of my thumb drive (and all the data on it) earlier this year. So when faced with the prospect of writing another one (entirely from scratch this time!), I thought it high time for reflection. It would seem that the root of the problem is solidly planted, as so many are, in judgement.
Performer bios generally fall into one of several categories. A few notable examples:
Broadway: Miss Saigon. Touring: Little Shop of Horrors, Urinetown. Regional: Tibalt in R&J at More Professional Than Yours Repertory Theatre.
Most often seen at the Alliance and other sundry “real” theatres. Has the distinction of being both envy- and yawn-inducing.
I first became interested in theatre when I played Gabrielle in High School Musical 5 at Somekinda Academy. I take voice lessons, piano lessons, tap lessons, and private acting lessons at Sucka School of Performing Arts. See you on Broadway!
Believe it or not, this bio type appears for more than just school plays. Painful in both its syntax and naivete.
The Non Sequitur
Jeff recently came off a stint of battling the arch super villain Nefesto and his band of Wily Ninjas on the Planet Portojax. Besides saving the world, he also enjoys Rollerblade streaking and making model bridges out of miniature snow globes.
My husband’s preferred style.
The Heavenly Shout Out
Thanks to mom, daddy, my agent Randy (you rascal!), and most of all, to Jesus. Mighty is the Lord who bestowed upon me so many gifts and talents! PRAISE HIM WITH SONG.
A regional flavor.
But even more so than judgement, I think it really comes down to perfectionism. It’s like if I can’t write a bio that comes off as both impressive and witty, I have to turn in my actor and writer cards.
What do you find oddly annoying?