Say No: Theatre Wisdom for Writers


All right, so today’s post isn’t a newsflash or even intrinsically tied to writing and theatre. It’s about the power of saying no. And also how sometimes you have to turn down amazing opportunities.

Really. It’s ok.

For a few weeks, I’ve been dancing around the news that I’m pregnant. Little one expected to terrorize the world in October!

The changes in my body have affected my life, so I’ve had to cut back on things and set boundaries I’d previously never considered. Example: I auditioned for a role yesterday that would be super fun, but with a bitch of a commute. And my energy levels have not returned to pre-pregnancy despite second trimester. This all means that I have to think long and hard about whether or not I can do this.

But they have to offer me the role before I stress out over that too much.

And sometimes great opportunities are mutually exclusive. Last week saw the offers of roles in two staged readings. Both happening the same day. Both great roles, but I had to choose.

Also? Being in a position to turn down a role makes for an amazing humble-brag. But it’s stressful as hell.

Saying no is never easy, especially to an amazing opportunity in something you love. Sometimes, however, there is no other way around it. Conflicting deadlines with other obligations or restrictions so you can only choose one? Think long and hard about it. Remember your first impressions and listen to your instincts.

Most people tend to be amazingly understanding.

I turned down Alais in The Lion in Winter for MacDuff in Macbeth. (I adore The Scottish Play and Shakespeare, and how often does a woman four months pregnant get to play the character that kills Macbeth in the end?) Turns out, the director I turned down teaches high school English. And Shakespeare. She was great about it.

As long as your no doesn’t come from fear – and it’s human nature to run away from the best things – you’ll be fine.

Though that doesn’t mean it won’t hurt like hell.


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