Having had the great opportunity to be involved in reading two characters in a "re-worked" script tonight, I'm feeling particularly grateful. First off, I love the piece and was fortunate to be involved in a staged reading of an earlier version last year. Second of all, I am working with people I admire and respect.
I believe that every actor, if they get the chance, should work on brand new material. Whether a reading, workshop, showcase or premiere. Being involved in the creative process from the very beginning is an amazing experience even if the material isn't brilliant, or marketable, or producible. And every once in a while, if you have the chance, you get to work on something pretty darn good.
I have been very fortunate in my career to be involved with a great many new projects: readings, workshops and premiers. Although I must admit that I have never worked on a project from reading, thru workshop to premiere and would love that opportunity some day.
Now don't get me wrong, there are realities you need to face when working on certain stages of new material. Probably the two most important are: don't presume, even if you think the material is amazing, that it will ever progress past the stage it is in; and two, don't assume if it does, that you will go with it! And the second one can be hard to swallow for any performer particularly if you've created the character at the start. But realize there are so many factors that may cause you NOT to be asked back. Let's hope it isn't because you didn't have the goods or were a "problem" for the creative team. But if you feel the work was great and you were a true pro, there are things, just like in auditions, beyond your control.
Maybe you were asked to be involved because the creative team wanted to include you but the role really wasn't a perfect fit (this happened to me with GO, GO BEACH but I knew going in, if it went further it wouldn't be with me and I was ok with that - hey, I got to work with the amazing Stafford Arima and current Tony Nominee, Gavin Creel!); or maybe your part gets completely written out or the age changes dramatically or even the sex changes; and maybe...and this happens a lot with shows that move on to a more "productive" stage...they get a bigger name to play your role. But try not to lose heart. If you are proud of your work, it will be remembered - who knows when the director or writers will call you up for something else or even a later stage of that new show if something opens up that "fits." And if the show does become successful, once it hits the regions, you'll already be familiar with the material and can go in having already worked on it, which can sometimes be a great advantage with short rehearsal times.
So I guess what I am saying in all of that is work on new material WHENEVER you have the chance and whatever else will be, will be.