Top 10 tips for aspiring thespians
Isabella ‘Sab’ Jose.
Photos courtesy of Sab Jose
Top 10 tips for aspiring thespians
WORDSWORTH - Mons Romulo (The Philippine Star) - December 11, 2018 - 12:00am

My sisters and I grew up in the ‘70s watching plays produced by Repertory Philippines. We enjoyed watching its musicals particularly when they starred Joy Virata, Cocoy Laurel and Menchu and Raymond Lauchengco.

In 1980 came Lea Salonga, who won our hearts as she starred in the hit musical Annie. We then followed Lea’s career abroad where she continued to make her countrymen proud.

After the ‘80s, musicals quietly continued in Manila. Of late, however, the theater scene in Manila has become so alive that many worthy productions have been shown.

 Recently, theatergoers were treated to hit musicals like Eto Na! Musikal nAPO, a comedy play about the life of popular band The APO Hiking Society, and Lungs by Duncan MacMillan. Cast in both shows — as Michelle in Eto Na! Musikal nAPO and W in Lungs, alongside Jake Cuenca — is promising theater actress IsabelleSabJose.

Sab earned her masters degree in Musical Theater at Guildford School of Acting in the UK. With her are her parents Raffy and Marichi Jose and siblings Anton and Bettina.

“In 2016, straight out of corporate life and rusty as you would expect, I took that leap of faith and auditioned for one of the top conservatoires in the United Kingdom. By God’s grace, I made the cut — 20 out of the thousands that auditioned,” shares Sab, who recently earned her masters degree in Musical Theater at the highly regarded Guildford School of Acting in the UK.

“I never thought I was ‘leading lady material.’ I never thought I was good enough, or as good as the others around me. To my mind at least, I became local theater’s token chorus girl, the funny girl and supporting character actress. It had become my niche, until I decided to change it. I realized, the only way I could possibly believe in myself was to legitimize myself and this career. I knew I needed to start fresh, train hard and earn myself a masters degree.”

For those who are interested in theater acting, here are Sab Jose’s Top 10 tips.

1. Ask yourself if theater acting is truly what you want to do. Do you have the necessary skills, the stamina and the tenacity for it? Are you willing to sacrifice comforts, your social life, financial security, and other opportunities just to be able to perform? If the answer is a belted “Yes!,” move on to Tip No. 2.

2. Be patient and wait with grace. Take it from me — you will spend more time waiting in the wings rather than being under the spotlight.

3. Invest in training, continuing classes and education. Expand your skill set. Go out of your comfort zone. Add to your toolkit. It will set you apart from the rest. (i.e. lasso training, break dance, rap, stage combat.)

4. Rejection is necessary. Directors and producers know exactly what they want — from your look, to your voice, to your personality. You must learn from failed auditions, assess the positive and negative aspects of that audition. Go back to the drawing board, train even harder and come back stronger.

5. The text/book/script/libretto is your best friend. It is your bible. Lean on it. Milk it. Then learn to let it go.

Sab Jose as W and Jake Cuenca as M in Duncan MacMillan’s Lungs.

6. Block out the noise. With criticism or unsolicited advice, take it with a grain of salt. You can’t please everybody. Take the things that may work for you and throw out the rest.

7. Get out of your head (and up on your feet). If you’re the type of actor who overthinks, and you have a hard time deciding on your “objective,” get up on your feet and use physical action. Often times, our bodies instinctively know what to do.

8. Trust the process and always trust your gut. Follow your “actorly” instinct but learn to adjust and collaborate with the team.

9. Fight for it. The universe will give you what you want if you fight tooth and nail to get it. Persevere and keep trying until such time that people can’t help but take notice and eventually give you a chance.

10. Find joy and light beyond the spotlight. There is a life outside of all of this. Learn to realize that performing isn’t the end all and be all of your life. Step out of the theater once in a while and explore the world.

(We welcome your suggestions and comments. Please e-mail me at Follow me on Instagram @monsromulo.)

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