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Friday, September 9, 2011

How To Write A Bio For A Program (Theatre Learning)


There is a burden that all theatre professionals have to deal with in our business. The very thought of it makes me paranoid and nervous.

At the beginning of every new production you are involved in, you receive an email that reads:

Hi (Show Title) Pro & Cast,
Your bios and headshots (if you are an actor) for The Show You Are In are due.
If you could please e-mail them to me it would be appreciated. Thanks, (Production Manager or Whoever Handles This)

I hate receiving this email because I never know what to say about myself. Should I talk about past awards and favorite roles? Should I speak of my affiliations? My feelings about the Government?


Well, today I am going to tell you the do's and don'ts of writing a great bio!

I know since everybody's season is getting started, this is very relevant and you will want to take notes.

First, I will write you a sample bio that has a bunch of mistakes and then we will dissect it to learn better.

Anderson Lawfer (Mamie Reardon) is thrilled to be part of this great production. You may have seen him in plays at Victory Gardens, Collaboraction, Steep Theater, About Face (Jeff nomination- Best Performance), the National Tour of Wicked (with Sigourney Weaver) which toured many prestigious theaters, among others. He is the Associate Artistic Director of Vampire Couch Theatre Company where he also serves as the literary manager and head playwright. He would like to thank his wife Lil RayRay and his daughters for their support and unconditional loyalty.

Seems harmless enough right?
WRONG!

This bio is making you look like a douchebag and let me tell you exactly why, in 5 points.

1. Anderson Lawfer (Mamie Reardon) is thrilled to be part of this great production.

If you say the word "thrilled" and don't use an exclamation point, then you are not thrilled.
For example:
Anderson is just thrilled to be getting married.
or
Anderson is just THRILLED to be getting married!

See? The second one is clearly more excited sounding, but it also makes you sound like a retard, so just avoid saying you are thrilled at all. This also goes for excited, pleased as punch, super excited, and having a great time working at this company.

2. You may have seen him in plays at Victory Gardens, Collaboraction, Steep Theater, About Face (Jeff nomination- Best Performance),

Nobody saw you in those things.

3.
the National Tour of Wicked (with Sigourney Weaver) which toured many prestigious theaters, among others.

If you put some famous person's name in a show you were in, and are now doing a non equity show at LampSkunk Theatre Company, it looks like you have fallen very hard. Maybe it is because you quit doing tours to start a family and teach at DePaul, or maybe it is because you are an awful drunk that tried to bang the usher. The point is, we don't know why you didn't stay on the up and up, but you clearly didn't, so just leave it alone.

Prestigious Theaters read: Whites Only.

Among Others read: There are no others.

4. He is the Associate Artistic Director of Vampire Couch Theatre Company where he also serves as the literary manager and head playwright.

There is nothing wrong with this. That is actually a pretty sweet title.

5.
He would like to thank his wife Lil RayRay and his daughters for their support and unconditional loyalty.

This is a grammatical error that drives me crazy. If you would like to thank them, then quit being a pussy and just thank them already!
Plus, if you are thanking your wife for support, you are lying to everyone. Your wife wants you to stop doing plays for free and get a second job.
Also, your daughters don't even remember you because you spend every night above a liquor store talking about what your new mission statement should be.

So now that we have discussed the don'ts, let's put all of these practices to work and make a true bio that you can be proud of!

Anderson Lawfer (Mamie Reardon) is a part of this production. You didn't see him in plays at Victory Gardens, Collaboraction, Steep Theater, About Face (Jeff nomination- Best Performance- Lost to Stacy Stoltz), the Regional Tour of Wicked (with Kerr Smith) which toured many diverse theaters, and no other plays. He is the Associate Artistic Director of Vampire Couch Theatre Company where he also serves as the literary manager and head beerdrinker. Thanks to his "wife" Lil RayRay and his daughters for not caring where he is, and to whomever in the cast he is undoubtedly having an emotional affair with right now.

Now that we know how to write a great bio, let's go out there and take back the programs!!

Have a great season everybody!

A+

-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach





4 comments:

  1. This is great and about one month late for the show I am producing. I wish I could have sent this to my actors. Thanks to you for writing this blog.

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  2. Perfect. And also please include the rule that you should always misspell Shakespeare -- I see it all the time in professional bios, and now I'm convinced it's some sort of requirement.

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  3. Where do actors learn to write that they are thrilled to be in the production? I've seen that so many times that I assume there is a class in which actors are brainwashed into believing it is a good idea.

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  4. It is definitely someone have to start project manager biography writing in routine if someone really want to become a perfect biography writer. It would be truly works and improve the mistakes day by day.

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