The complete lockdown shook the ground under our feet. It left many stuck at home, robbing us from our day-to-day routines, changing life as we know it. Many industries worldwide had to go under a temporary pause until it was safe to resume normal activities. However, the locked doors in our workplaces don’t necessarily mean a pause in acquiring knowledge and practising our skills.
In fact, according to many marketing experts; from certified social media marketers to Forbes, all professionals who decide to invest into their knowledge by reading more, taking part in webinars and online courses, will stand a higher chance of having a more impressive comeback once the world becomes our stage again.
The Arts sector has been hit hard in Australia, with many arts workers ineligible for government support and without other stable income to rely on. Theatres were the first to close their doors at the beginning of the pandemic and it will take some time before audiences can return again. But as the weeks turn into months, it is important not to get too comfortable on the couch. Stay dedicated to your craft and prepare for the big opening. During this off-stage time, it is the perfect opportunity to further hone your skills and stay sharp, witty and wise.
Here are some suggestions on how you as an actor can further enhance your skills.
Keep practising via Zoom, FaceTime or Skype
Most of our interactions have shifted to the online world. Luckily for us, in the era of the internet, we get to keep in touch with our friends and colleagues and practice together. Make the most of the situation and convert your living quarters into a rehearsal room. Invite your friends to have regular rehearsals or play readings of all those plays you never had time for before. Why not read a play with a group of friends and then gather again for a debrief session? Use this opportunity to find out where you can improve.
There are tons of resources available online for crafting your acting skills. A lot of classes are available for a nominal fee or even some are free of charge. Udemy, Domestika and Great Courses Plus have a great selection of diverse courses and people can access them from any point in the world. Many universities here in Australia offer distance learning options ranging from full-on studies to short courses.
A little more expensive but packing a whole lot of bang for your buck – why not learn from some of the world’s greatest talents with Masterclass. Helen Mirren teaches acting, Aaron Sorkin teaches screenwriting, Hans Zimmer teaches film scoring, Steve Martin teaches comedy, R.L. Stine teaches writing for young audiences, Anna Wintour teaches creativity and leadership and many, many more.
The post-COVID-19 world will require people and businesses to be able to respond to changes swiftly. To be able to do that, actors must stay on top of their game and dedicate themselves to lifelong learning.
Exercising self-management and discipline
It takes a lot of self-discipline to create a routine when there are no schedules and rehearsals to uphold. Creating a new regimen while being your own boss is equally challenging and rewarding. Performers who stick to their already created habits from the pre-COVID-19 world and build on them by daily practice are more likely to have a successful comeback once the time arrives.
Networking with other professionals
With so much free time on our hands and the beauty of a good internet connection, performers have the time to widen their circles and meet others from the industry. Exchanging knowledge and experience is a great way to boost self-confidence and expand your networks. Think of it as widening your intellectual portfolio. The more you learn from other peoples experiences, the more you can implement into your own work.
Blogging about your journey – becoming tech-savvy
You’re on a unique adventure, what has your individual lockdown journey been like? Having an online journal can help bring a wider audience closer to understanding the unique challenges you are facing. The more people know about your situation, the stronger empathy they can feel towards you. Writing about your COVID-19 world will help preserve the history we are ling through for future generations to come. As artists, we owe it to ourselves to create art even when the virtual reality is our only stage.
Be resilient and optimistic
Resilience is a skill like no other. We say someone is resilient when they can adapt to life’s difficult situations, sudden turn of events and hardships. Life is never simple, however, the current pandemic forced us into a reality check. The most hardworking, focused and adaptive to change people will rise as the most sought after in the new hiring process.
Optimism is an essential part of making it through. Focusing on the present moment while being productive and forward-thinking are the right steps towards a brighter future.
But most importantly, the above routines create a sense of normality and help us feel connected even when self-isolating.
According to Paul Rae, Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne:
Artists whose careers survive the pandemic will emerge with an altered sense of what they do, and of their place in society.
The global shift that COVID-19 has caused is changing the understanding of how fast we need to react in order to adapt to the new norms. This is true for the theatre performers just as much as any other field.