Lessons from a Co-op | Stage Milk

Lessons from a Co-op

Written by on | Acting Tips StageMilk Acting Blog

Co-ops… if I was writing this at any other moment in the process you’d have a very different account of my experience. There were highs, and of course, some colossal lows in which I considered, quite seriously, a series of inventive exit plans. But on this day, as I look back on my experience, able, with the wonder of hindsight, to view the whole picture in a clear and wise manner, I could’t recommend a co-op highly enough (with a few minor clauses.) And so here are my lessons from a co-op…

Acting. The fact is, we are actors because we love to act; at least one hopes so. And a co-op production does, after all, allow you to achieve this objective. The main thing to ensure is that it is a great script and you have a great part. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be the lead role, but you must be drawn to the character and really want to play that part. Co-ops can also offer you the chance to play an exciting or unusual role. In larger productions we are often less likely to play outside of our comfort zone (yes, wild generalization, please go easy), so co-ops can be a platform to stretch ourselves as actors, to perhaps make a few much-needed mistakes, and to come away having learnt a little more about our craft.

moneyMoney. Even if the production is wildly successful you will be lucky to walk away with a thousand dollars, and for 6-8 weeks’ work, in which you may struggle to maintain a normal job, that is not a great deal. So don’t do it for the money; being a dish pig is more lucrative. On a financial planning level, be sure to find out the rough rehearsal schedule well in advance as you will need time to work, as eating is generally preferable. Also, look over the contract and make sure it adheres to the guidelines of MEAA. If you are a member, you can seek their advice.

Do your research. If you’re working with great people, it doesn’t matter if you have no budget or if no one ever sees the show (okay, we would like, at minimum, the parentals to attend). However, if you can grow as an actor and do good work, that should be the ultimate goal. So find out who is directing. See what other productions they have directed and if you can, talk to other actors who have worked with them, ideally over a beer to get the real inside scoop.

pathWhat’s on the horizon? If the weeks, months or year ahead is looking a little scarce on the acting front, a co-op is a great way to keep up your skills and get reinvigorated. You will meet people, you will learn (even if it’s a disaster) and at the end of the day, you are acting. So if the production ticks all the boxes, or at least a good handful, I recommend taking the plunge. If you have any thoughts, or other lessons from a co-op you have been apart of, please leave us a comment below…

About the Author


is Stage Milk's core writer. He is a trained, Sydney based actor who writes the majority of our acting information.

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