An Actor Looking for Balance
On how to keep yourself motivated and creative even when projects don’t come “flooding” you.
- Create them yourself. Don’t stay there waiting for the phone to ring. Look for new plays, read them, translate, or write them if you have to. Come together with your artist friends, people that you trust, and create your own project. There is nothing that could bring you more energy and faith than the anticipation of the rehearsals and the process of “raising” up your own show.
- Keep practicing. There are so many things that you have to keep well trained: your body, your mind, your soul. Your training should never stop. You can finally find the time to take good care of your instrument. You have a chance to become more sensitive, more flexible, both physically and psychologically speaking. Each casting/audition should find you well prepared.
- See as many performances and films as you can. Look for different sources of inspiration: opera, ballet, puppet shows, it doesn’t matter. It is very important to know what is happening around you. You must remain open and aware of a cultural context that you actually belong to. This is so obvious, that I don’t want to insist any longer. It is essential.
- Say “yes” to new experiences. If you keep yourself open, you can find so many things that you can learn from: a project that needs volunteers, a new job that comes on your way, a part-time maybe that will challenge your communication skills. You can also find yourself in the position of learning totally new skills that will be of great use for your next part.
- Learn something new. This is the perfect time to take canto or tango lessons, or to learn a new language. Moreover, everything you learn will complete your abilities in your cv/resume and that will broaden the range of characters that you are eligible for.
- Get out. Yes, actors also need a ballanced social life. This means that you should sometimes go out with your relatives, or other people that are not from your “theatre world”. This experience will remind you that the world is a way bigger place, and that there are more important problems than your ‘failing’ a scene. Furthermore, there are a lot of interesting characters and situations out there. Life is our biggest source of inspiration. It’s a very good idea to let yourself live the most common experiences. You might actually enjoy them. Extra bonus, the feeling of being part of a trusted group, the attachment, and the stability your friends bring into your life, these are what makes one healthy and balanced.
- Upgrade what you are already doing. The shows that you have been performing still need your attention. Remember what made you enthusiastic about them in the first place, and try to find out how they have changed in the meantime. Keep asking yourself how can you improve something about your character in the show you have today. Reconsider the situation. Maybe there are some particular aspects that you have become aware of only after two years of playing the part, for example. Or maybe you’ve discovered new nuances by playing and being in the character all this time. Try to discover something new each time you go on stage. Experiment. Again and again. Here and now. (It is really said to see a very young actor playing like a “5o year sour” one.) Refresh yourself. Ask yourself one new question, each show, and it’s already something. You will not only be better today, but you will become aware of your work, you will increase your selfesteem and you will trust your work on stage. Bottom line, it is your job to be enthusiastic when you go to the theatre. This way you can find fresh energy to go on, and a new purpose. And nevertheless, it will take you to your next job. An actor that is enjoying his character is always captivating, and attracts projects naturally.
- Live. Love. Create. “Don’t learn how to act, learn how to live” says Grotowski. Protect your energy and invest it in things that really matter to you. Do anything that makes you happy. It is the only way to become the best, without asking for anything in return. Manifest your creativity, no matter what that means to you: enjoy your hobby, develop a part-time job out of your passion for dance, for example, raise a child, enrol as a Greenpeace volunteer, build up dog shelters. It really doesn’t matter. Whatever makes you feel more fulfilled, more “tired-but-happy” when you to to bed at night, this is exactly what will make you a better actor.
I suggest you take a look at these two very interesting resources on this subject:
- A book called “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience ” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on how to access our maximum potential.
- A Kate Winslet interview on her approach on acting and also about how ‘keeping yourself busy’ is the only way to enrich yourself, as a human being, and also as an actor, of course.
Have a great creative week everyone!