the art of giving up
A couple of years ago I started my love hate relationship with acting. The fun had gone and I just started putting pressure on myself. I connected acting with getting stressed, so it was time to switch it up - find a new creative output. A few months after this decision I was asked to produce for Gutter Street Theatre company, so I leaped at the chance! Something creative, with a great bunch of people, who are super relaxed and just want to have fun. Perfect.
I still carried on acting, but not professionally. Went to an amateur dramatics group. Did a few plays there. Went to the occasional Meisner class to learn how to give less time to my overthink brain. I became fully invested in producing, started projects that I never thought I could; I was excited about theatre again… which of course started to bring the niggle back about wanting to act. I still felt at my least confident when acting, and knew it wasn’t the best place for me, so a friend suggested one last hurrah. A chance to formally say goodbye and put it to bed - one last audition, knowing this would be it. I applied to the audition about 10 minutes before its deadline, part of me kind of hoping that I’d missed it. I didn’t. The audition date came through.
This time was different though.
Normally, I would drop everything and obsessively work on the audition material, stopping life and freaking myself out. This time I carried on as normal, just learning things when I could. Zero pressure, zero stress. Since I knew it was my last hurrah, I made sure I was making choices that were fun, not making choices that I believed were right or what they wanted. In the audition I came in relaxed, knowing that I’d taken this step away, knowing I had other things that meant more right now. It made me happy in the room, more in the moment and better at listening. Afterwards, I let it go. Logged that I had fun and that it was a great last audition.
Then I got a recall. Same thing happened. Less invested in the outcome. Still caring and wanting to do well, but not life or deathing the scenario. Thinking about enjoying that last audition.
Then the next recall. And the next… and then the call. You got it!
All these years I have been slogging away and stressing about this moment and the minute I walk away, it happens?!
I was telling this story to a friend and they said “Funnily enough, the same thing happened to me! I dropped my agent, came off spotlight and went travelling. Then I got a call from my dream theatre company. They wanted me to audition. I came back, knowing I couldn’t make the recalls, knowing this was just for fun. Lo and behold, I was asked back to recall. Told them no, I’m in the Netherlands now doing the things I always said I couldn’t because an audition might come through”. A couple of weeks later he gets the call. They liked his first audition that much that it didn’t matter he couldn’t make the recalls.
So many people share this story. You hear a lot of celebrities getting their big breaks after they have resigned to a different fate. There is something in the freedom it gives you. You don’t care as much, you still want to impress but the fun comes first. A confidence in the power of your new path choices.
Now. I know I am not instantly going to be able to take this into every room with me, but now I have experienced this freedom and lack of inner demon, I am going to try to set myself up for this each time. Make sure I invest in the things that keep me happy outside of acting. Make sure I value the now rather than the end product. Easier said than done, but I’m going to try!
So yes, I am back at acting. Producing and acting together. I will keep you informed of my journey, let you know if I find more ways to get rid of that self-imposed pressure we all like to make.
And if you have any tips, please send them my way!