Lately, I keep coming back to authenticity. And the idea that all artists, especially performance artists such as ourselves, should always be chasing authenticity in performance, our life and career.
It’s your career, no one else’s. You have all the power when it comes to choosing and curating the work you do. Take your career into your own hands. You might choose to only work in main stage theatre, or you might choose to avoid commercial work – doesn’t matter what it is, but recognise that you have a choice. Yes, acting work is few and far between, but that doesn’t mean you need to accept every unpaid short film gig that comes your way. Instead, accept every gig that comes your way that speaks to you.
We talk a lot about following good writing and good text. A good piece of writing, a good story, will have a sense of truth and authenticity about it. Read and watch more theatre and film, and get good at recognising the type of stories which resonate with you and ignite your passion. You might find you resonate with love stories, or revenge stories or female warriors kicking ass. If the writing is good, and you trust the creatives behind it, then go for it.
It’s your career, no one else’s. You have all the power when it comes to choosing and curating the work you do.
It’s very easy to get caught in the trap of observing yourself whilst you are acting. I’m sure you’ve all experienced this before, it’s a sensation where you feel like you’re standing outside of yourself, hyper aware of how you look on camera and the sound of your voice and then all of a sudden you don’t know what to do with your hands! This is not conducive to great acting. And whilst acting is a bit of a paradox, after all we are pretending to tell the truth, I think the most palpable performances are those that are deeply grounded in truth. That is why there are some outstanding actors in our midst, because their work truly resonates with audiences from all kinds of experiences and backgrounds, all over the world.
When you next find yourself performing, you should be looking for the truth, stripping back all the glamour, the superficial elements, and sometimes even all your script work, and focus on the honest story underneath.
Life imitates art, and art imitates life. Think of your life as your primary resource for acting – all of your experiences, your emotions, your thoughts, questions, behaviours, physicality – this is what you use when you perform. If your life is inauthentic, then it only makes sense that your art will be too. So I encourage you to chase authenticity in your every day.
1# Practice telling the truth in every day life. Set a coffee date with a friend, and make a point of being completely open and honest with them. Notice how vulnerable it might feel, or how freeing, notice how your voice, body language and expression changes as you open yourself up. And then notice what effect that has on your friend. Spend a little less time talking, and more time listening. Acting should become a little less like constructing, and a little more like breathing.
2# Seek authentic relationships, and nourish them. Do you have relationships that are currently bringing you down? Stressing you out? Feel fake and superficial? Maybe it’s time for a purge.
That’s all from me – good luck chasing authenticity, keep coming back to the truth in performance, and look for writing that resonates with you.