You may be well ahead of me and I’m willing to bet you are. But I am enthusiastic about a useful tool for organizing the many facets of theatre life I’ve just discovered and wanted to pass it on to you, just in case you never heard of it.
It started with a hint from my computer, which subtly brought to my attention something called Microsoft OneNote.
Music? What’s with that?
I opened it and read through the OneNote Guide and found it is a way to keep track of the important parts of your life. I had been doing that, electronically anyway, with Word and Excel. Word holds for me the volumes of thoughts, ideas, bits of stories and plays, completed articles (this post, for example).
Excel contains all kinds of lists, from keeping track of the money I spend, to lists of books I want to read with check marks next to the ones I have already read.
Most important, Excel has my to-do lists. One for personal things to take care of – dentist appointment, buy more litter for my bunny, movie and lunch with my friends, things like that. Then there are scads of to-do lists for my various projects – this blog and how I want to “grow” it, a novel I am almost finished with, a play I started a while ago and want to finish next. I list in separate lists the things I need to do to finish each thing. When I get a bright idea, such as some action that would work well in the play, I jot it down somewhere else and hope I can find it again when I look for it. Or I hope it won’t get lost somewhere and that I forget I ever wrote it.
OneNote does all of that in a much more fun way and better yet, everything is organized in one place in ways I can find them again. I still use Word for writing posts and the actual novel and play, but OneNote takes care of the minutia and even better, is fun to use. You can paste or write bits of things, plunk them down on a page that you name, say maybe Improv where I’ll gather all the research and thoughts I will have for an article about improvisation. I can rearrange the material I gather to suit how the article is developing. Or organize it into a larger study of Off-Off-Broadway in the 1960s.
Plus, if you know Word, OneNote is easy to learn. (It took this old codger maybe ten minutes to figure it out, but I have to confess, having been a tech writer in the past, I read the OneNote Guide.) It comes built-in with suggestions for how to use the pages it already has set up and you can adapt the various structures to make them work for you.
I mention writing projects specifically, because I have a feeling that more than a few of you already write, be it research papers, poetry to your love, notes from class, and maybe even there’s a playwright in the making. The point is OneNote is something you might want to look into. Not only for writing, but for all kinds of note-taking, research, to-dos. You’ll think of more.
Learn it now, use it and whatever comes next for your life. If nothing else, you will have made getting and staying organized a habit for life.
The point of all this is isn’t to get you to use one electronic tool over another, but to use something to give you a leg-up in your theatre career (or any career). No matter which part of the performing arts appeals to you, you’ll need to organize things in your life, both personal and professional, and be able to easily keep track of things like auditions, graduation, or even who to invite to your next performance.
Why? Because if you have those things in a place you can easily find and refer to, you won’t have to keep them in that old cluttered brain of yours. It frees that brain to concentrate on what’s important, such as learning the stippling technique to paint a scenic backdrop, to learn that monologue for an audition, to get that scene polished for playwriting class.
Picking out a monologue, for example, is not as easy or simple as it sounds. You have to know when that audition is, what is required from you, how long it should be. You also need to find something suitable and (I hope) you are not allowed to take it from a book of already picked monologues. It may very well need to be from the classics. You may want to write down a list of plays you could take monologues from. You may want to note some thoughts and ideas for the character.
Using an electronic tool like OneNote, you make progress and can easily find what you need at every step of the way to a performance. You are progressing hand in hand, art and technology. Or if you hate technology, then use paper.
Get your life moving toward your goals
The point is, find a way to get and keep your life cooking in all areas. When I preach (over and over) that you need to have some kind of advantage to get noticed and get into this business, this is one of the things I mean. Organizing your life gives you a distinct advantage when it comes time to perform or do.
A resource for teachers: How To Integrate Education Technology With Scaffolding.