This week’s coffee comes to you from sunny Sydney after returning from a fulfilling season of ‘Titanic: the Musical’ in Melbourne.
Although life has changed gears with work and study replacing sleeping- in and matinees, I’m still on a high from being stage each night doing what I love. In fact, this high has now been going on for many years; through my time working for MSC, at WAAPA and continuing with the adventures I’ve had this year. In the words of a 7 year old boy who just had his tooth removed, “is this real life?” Is someone slipping me happy pills? Possibly. But a more likely reason is that being an actor changes your life. Regardless of being involved in a project, practising for an audition or working a day job; acting is a lifestyle, and for these reasons, I think it’s a pretty wonderful one.
- Brings You Out of Your Shell
One of the biggest issues in society is fear of diversity; people are afraid of being judged for their differences, irregularities and flaws. Not only are these celebrated in the acting profession, but could mean the difference between blending in and standing out to land a role. Ever wondered why the Music Theatre kids are so bubbly and loud? Playing different characters forces you to know yourself inside and out- you can’t satisfy a role if you’re not emotionally available yourself. This openness translates into everyday life, creating a self- awareness that allows you to be comfortable in your own skin and enjoy your differences.
- Connects You to the Best People
One of my favourite parts of doing a show is meeting other like- minded people. There is nothing more incredible than getting to play with generous, charismatic people who are driven towards the same purpose of creating something special. Whether it’s in the dressing room or onstage, there’s a little bit of magic in the air as you push each other to achieve things you didn’t know you could. Or just sing a really awesome duet. That’s pretty cool too.
- Work is Never Boring
Even though waiting for the next audition, being on hold or just losing your night- times can be challenging; we can at least claim that our lives will never be boring. A lack of stability- be it accommodation, schedule, financial or emotional (dying onstage every night anyone?) as well as the relentless anticipation of new auditions and waiting for the call is enough to keep anyone on their toes; but with this insecurity comes exciting potentials. Being on stage is the same story; with new actors or a new audience comes new circumstances and opportunities. No two nights are ever the same. It may be a tough life, but if you can’t imagine doing anything else, then you’re probably in the right field.
- Keeps You At Your Peak
If anyone has seen ‘Aladdin’ recently, you know what I’m talking about. The physical demands of a career where your body is your instrument are ridiculously high. From lifting heavy set pieces to back- flips and fouettes, you never know what you might be required to do. Whether you’re training, rehearsing or exposing your abs to the entire Capitol Theatre, this career motivates you to be at your peak of health and fitness.
5. Intellectually Challenging
Acting is a career where there is always room for improvement; the learning never stops. The value of reading a book, attending a class, seeing a show or even observing people in the street is infinite. Even the most successful actors still hone their craft through attending theatre, seeing films and reading scripts. Our acting teacher at drama school said to us “I’ll teach you the lessons, and they’ll click at different points.” He couldn’t have been more correct. Each actor makes discoveries about themselves and their practise at different points in their life, and it is these lightbulb moments that inspire you to develop your skills, refine your techniques, and investigate ideas about psychology and human interaction.
- Helps You to Find the Excitement in Everyday Tasks
After working as an actor, functioning as a normal human being and doing everyday jobs can feel like playing a character. Mentally healthy? Maybe not. But it sure makes a day job more exciting- You’re not working in a restaurant; you’re playing a waitress! That man isn’t your boss; he’s just another actor in the play! You’re not sweeping up a dirty floor; you’re about to get levitated for the final verse of Defying Gravity!
- Allows You to Vent Emotionally
This is a big one. Actors, despite seeming absolutely insane a majority of the time, are usually very in touch with their emotions. This not only allows them to judge what a character is feeling based on a script, but helps them to decipher their own feelings and act accordingly. This usually consists of belting out a power ballad to vent some sadness, smashing some ‘Spring Awakening’ to expel some angst, or tapping along to ‘Morning Person’ when you’re in a merry mood…or maybe that’s just me…
- Improves Your Focus
A big part of acting comes from observing and listening to people and the way they interact. Whether you’re people- watching or performing a scene, the ability to focus and hone into someone’s energy is absolutely vital. Ever wonder how actors deal with someone unwrapping the
ir hard candy during a quiet scene or resist the urge to laugh at a funny moment on stage? It’s all about zoning in on something else, usually the actor opposite. This ability to focus is so beneficial in life; it helps you to give your full attention to someone or something without being distracted by other factors. You can ignore someone by concentrating on another task, engage in reading body language and facial gestures in conversations, or as many of my classmates did at drama school, zone out and sleep anywhere at any time.
9. There Are No Rules
The best (and sometimes worst) part of acting is the absolute freedom it gives you. There are no rules; you are free to explore and invent to fill the character you’ve been cast as. Although a director is there for guidance, sometimes the infinite choices can be daunting. This is where trust comes in. Trust in your creative team’s vision, trust in your fellow actors to push you to respond in the
best way, and trust in yourself and the interpretation you choose. There is nothing more exciting than being given the freedom to invent and play without restrictions; this return to childhood not only healthy and enjoyable, but an important lesson in living without fear of judgement.
- You’re Actually Following Your Dreams
Regardless of whether people think you’re brave or stupid, choosing to do what you love as a career means you’re one of very few people who are following their dreams. There are times it can be torturous and impossible to achieve perfection; but that’s the whole point. There is no ‘perfect’. Every actor is different, constantly shifting and moulding as they gain life experience and develop new thoughts and ideas to bring to their craft.