HOW TO MINDFULLY TAKE CARE OF THE ACTOR WITHIN BETWEEN ACTING PROJECTS
By Vicky Saye Henderson
You know the pattern.
You audition for a show.
You get cast.
You rehearse for weeks.
You open the show.
The run is an amazing experience.
You, the cast and crew galvanize as a community.
You feel artistically alive and appreciated.
The show closes.
Once the thrill of finally getting to do laundry again subsides…
If you do not have another audition or show lined up right away, how do you nurture your talent and make the most of your down time to grow and refuel? Here are 10 ways to be “out of work creatively” from the incredibly insightful Joanna Merlin. These tips come from the last chapter of her book, AUDITIONING: AN ACTOR-FRIENDLY GUIDE (Vintage Books, Copyright 2001).
1. Take classes that will improve your skills.
Continue to grow and expand your talents. If funds are limited, gather with other actors to read & discuss plays regularly.
2. Find mentors.
Find actors, teachers or coaches who inspire you, whom you trust and from whom you can learn. Let them know of your goals and ask for their help in pursuing them.
Keep your body in good shape for both your artistic work and your health. It makes you look and feel better plus it will improve your versatility and increase your stamina for your next show.
4. Stimulate your artistic sensibilities.
Take in art in any way you can. Go to performances. If funds are limited, ask to usher. Step outside of your comfort zone and gain an appreciation for other forms of artistic expression. Keep your sense of wonderment alive and well. Listen to music that stirs you. Feed your soul.
5. Don’t let “show business” be the only thing in your life.
It’s easy for actors to be insular. We spend a lot of time doing and talking about acting and theater. Expand your horizons. Take in what’s going on outside the world of acting.
Give of yourself. Be useful to organizations and institutions that would value your help. It is a good way to gain a new perspective on the world around you.
7. Husband your time…don’t waste it.
Learn something every day, as it will feed you, making you both a better actor and a better person.
Ask anyone who has been in a relationship with an actor and they will tell you it’s not easy. Actors work weird hours, often late at night. Their lives can be unpredictable. An altered rehearsal schedule can change your plans on a dime. However, it’s our relationships that give life meaning. Don’t take them for granted. Be sure that the people in your life are, along with your work, your highest priority. Make plans regularly for some quality time.
One of the hardest things about finishing an acting project is losing a sense of community and feeling alone and isolated. You need a support system of friends, family, other actors, teachers, etc. to help you feel connected. Take classes. Volunteer. Make plans with others. Find ways to build community.
10. Know why you want to act.
The reason may change over time, but stay tuned into the reason you give so much of your time and talent to it. Whatever it is, just knowing the answer can serve as a support system.