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Advice

Networking in Los Angeles

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Love is Company
Being away from family made me long for a home base of sorts. I needed a support system of like-minded artists. But where to start? There are lots of places for actors to network in this town. For my purposes, I began to search out theater companies because theater is what I knew.

From my understanding, there are more than 200 companies in and around Los Angeles to affiliate yourself with, all with different personalities and makeups. After trying out a few of them, I found my Los Angeles family and support system at Sacred Fools Theatre. The company has a quirky, independent voice that suits my sensibilities. There are a handful of other ones I'd recommend to new friends seeking out a theatrical haven.

For classical theater, the best company to hang out with is the Antaeus Company. The main company is composed of actors whose work is awe-inspiring. In addition, its conservatory has a reputation for being one of the best schools in town.

Another quirky theater, Theatre of Note, houses some of my favorite actors. We regularly share them with Sacred Fools.

My friends who are following more of the sitcom-sketch comedy path find themselves over at Upright Citizens Brigade on Franklin Avenue. They have a tie-in now with the "Funny or Die" people that helps them make a seamless transition into producing their own web series.
One of the most original and award-winning companies I've seen around town is the Troubadour Theater Company. It does incredible mash-ups of classic theater set to a live modern soundtrack. ("Fleetwood Macbeth" was the show last year). Some of the funniest, most talented people I know work out their stuff with the Troubies.

-- Vanessa Claire Stewart

Classes and Theaters
Where does one go to network with other actors? This is a complicated question. It used to be an easy answer. In Los Angeles I used to go to Joe Allen's -- until it closed. I went to Kathy Gallagher's -- until it filed for bankruptcy. It appears nothing is stable in an actor's life, including a hamburger after the show.

I try to see plays in different cities I visit. I go backstage and thank the actors for the performance and then hang with them for the evening. This has led to some wonderful and enlightening one-on-one discussions. It has even led to talking with some of the directors and artistic managers of companies, which in turn has led to invitations to audition for shows. A nice bonus.

Never underestimate the power of an acting class. I have gotten permission to audit acting classes in New York and Los Angeles. This has led to some great insights and many new friends. For the last few years I have taught improvisation and comedy for Kalmenson & Kalmenson. I have had several actors, writers, and directors from both coasts dropping in to observe and to share some of their experiences. With or without a drink in your hand, it's comforting to know that being an actor means you never have to stop learning.

-- Stephen Tobolowsky

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