We never had a huge budget (did we even have a budget at all? I don't know) nor did we have a big, professional tech crew - we really only had ourselves. Some days, that felt a little bit annoying. We'd brainstorm ways to work outside of the limitations of live theater, but sometimes we couldn't find solutions. We'd sit around and pout at the lack of a way to shoot a video where we turned ourselves into Muppets. Actually, a lot of our failed ideas were Muppet-based.
What I did love about the limitations is the ingenuity we got from it. When my cast mate/director, Matt, wanted to incorporate props, such as a human centipede pinata, into a show - he'd find a way to do it. He even turned the entire theater into a haunted house once. When we wanted to do a big song and dance number, I'd go home and either teach myself existing choreography (the Thriller dance) or choreograph an entire new routine. Evan would write great songs and taught himself how to play the guitar. Whatever we needed, or whatever we thought would enhance our sketches and take them to the next level - we would teach ourselves. We'd go home and learn how to use GarageBand or Photoshop. We'd watch YouTube videos of cheerleading routines so that the quality of our stupid two minute cheerleading sketch was high! Our musicians would spend hours learning pieces of music that we needed and our tech people would take the extra time to make our transitions between sketches and improv high energy and they'd perfect light cues so the tone of the scene was set before we even got on stage.
Nobody brought the bare minimum to the table. We all wanted to be better. We all wanted our stuff to be more interesting and next-level. Whatever we dreamt up, we'd make happen by finding a way or just doing it ourselves. My friend and cast-mate Brian once even said in passing, "We should make a giant card for Mayor Menino." Within days, it was constructed. We got the materials, we worked together to build it, paint it, decorate it, etc.
It's a great quality that I've taken with me to the next phase of my career/life. Whatever I want to make happen, I can make happen. There are no skills that I can't learn... or no YouTube video tutorials I can't watch. Working in a theater where every possible job was our job was a HUGE help for our character. At least it certainly was for me. It's helped me realize that I can do anything from learning SEO tricks for a bigger online presence to figuring out how to style my hair in victory rolls. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!
I know I'm not the only one because I look around at the people who came out of the theater with me and they're all doing awesome stuff and mostly got there on their own. One taught themselves how to use a camera and grew a successful photography career out of it. Someone else turned their love of sketch writing into a YouTube series and partnership with a huge comedy production company. One has a full-time job doing social media for a comedy company. Another started their own theater education program. It's pretty great.
Figuring something out - or just plain ol' doing it for yourself - is a really awesome feeling. It makes you feel strong, awesome and independent… even if (for me) it mostly comes out of lack of funds to pay for any formal training and the lack of social ability to ask anyone for help. But hey, as long as the end result is good, am I right?!