Thursday, May 16, 2013

Practice Practice Practice

Imagine that you took a break from practicing your art. There can be many, many reasons for doing so. Life gets in the way. You had to take another job to make ends meet. You had a child.  You had to move to another city that didn’t have the same abundant market for the arts and the opportunities weren’t there. You became disenchanted and had to find some distance. There are plenty other reasons. But pretend for a moment (or maybe you don’t have to) that you’ve been away from your art for ten years. What would it take to come back to it?

It is a different challenge for every medium. Painters would probably have to invest in new supplies as their old paints would have dried up – then spend some time remembering how the colors blend together on the paper or canvas. Musicians, while retaining a lot of the music theory, would have to take some time to practice getting the notes back in their fingers or developing their chops or other supporting muscles. A dancer would probably have the hardest time not only getting their body back into peak physical condition, but dealing with an older body as well.

Then there are the theater artists. In theory, all an actor would have to do is memorize a few monologues, dust off the headshots, and sign up for a few auditions. But are there actor muscles that have to be reshaped or remembered?

The answer is yes, but they are hard to definitively pinpoint and much easier to fake than a dancer or a trumpeter. Theater are lucky in that all they have to do is bring themselves to a process – and we are challenged that all we have to do is bring ourselves into a process.

It’s easy to remember to practice. Musicians have to practice to keep their skills up. Dancers have to practice to keep their technique up. Could you be a better theater artist if you spent the same amount of time at maintaining your skills and abilities – practicing like a dancer or an instrumentalist? The answer is probably yes. But it’s hard to keep that up between holding a day job or long hours of rehearsal. But the investment pays dividends.

So what if you are one of the one of the theater artists who is lucky enough to be engaged and performing in your field. Or maybe you are planning a return to the stage. Think about brining that same level of excellence that dancers and musicians bring with their entire being. Is this something that you do? Could you do better?

1 comment:

  1. actors can stay in the game by WORKING on monologues or scenes. when an actor is gone away from the game for too long, it is too easy for them to slip back into old, bad habits. i can tell when a person has been off their game for awhile, because there is much more "acting" and much less authenticity in their work.

    directors have a completely different challenge. time off for them is best served by reading, reading, reading and more reading of plays or stories for adaptation. a director can still block shows, conceptualize designs on "productions" with "dream budgets" where money is no object. this will keep their minds in a space where they can abstract and imagine. i agree with peter brook when he says a director HAS to stay current with fashion, music, architecture, any and all things that keeps them on the pulse of what's NOW, so when they return to their work in earnest, their art is reflection of what is happening CURRENTLY.