I perform a lot. Usually about four nights a week, sometimes five or six. When I'm not performing, I'm teaching or directing. Which sometimes feels a whole lot performing - depending on the class or group I'm working with.
Tonight was a really fun performing night. Those don't always happen. I always love my job and the career choice that I have made, but performing isn't always the most fun. Audiences sometimes suck, people can be difficult to work with, politics are politics - you know, all that stuff.
But tonight reminded me some key things about performing that I'd like to spell out right here on this blog that I have been ignoring for months.
1. A smaller group of people who know each other pretty well - and get along well - are really capable of putting on a great, cohesive show.
2. Support. Support! SUPPORT. It's so fucking key. Tonight, the group I direct was doing a scene about a grown up having toys. One of the actors came out - after the scene had started - and played one of the toys on the ground. I thought, "This could be weird." The actor turned around and saw her sitting on the ground and immediately justified what toy she was (Spiderman... that was almost life-size... which was funny, because she is actually a life-sized human being.) Then, immediately, another actor went out on stage and played another toy. Then a few more actors came out and played more toys. It was perfect support and team work! I was half-expecting someone to turn around and say, "You're not a toy! You're a person!" Or for just the one actor to have gone out and do it and nobody else support and heighten or build on it. But everyone worked together and made the scene WORK instead of crumble to the ground.
3. Laughs are addicting. And the reason a lot of people are bad at improv. Making a joke or calling a fellow actor out on stage might get you a room full of applause... but it sorta kinda makes you bad at the job you signed up for, which is working in an ensemble cast. Is it funny? Of course. But it can often be cheap and rude. (This is something I'm guilty of, but also very aware of and trying hard not to do. It happens a lot, all over the improv world. It kinda sorta grinds my gears.)
4. Be kind... but be aggressive. Being kind will get you far and people will like you and you'll walk away with your head held high! But, don't be too polite and let people walk all over you. And certainly don't wait around for what you "deserve." Work for it. Work towards a goal. (Even if that goal is to simply "get better.") Support others and work for the ensemble, but do what you have to do for yourself. Ask for things. Work hard for things. Show your worth and don't just assume somebody is sitting on the sidelines noticing you and getting ready to do something with you! And if all else fails, create your own opportunities. (But, remember to be kind. Don't be a dick about it.)
5. Have fun & chill the fuck out. Not everybody is out to get you. Not every rude thing is meant to be as rude as you think. I'm certainly, MOST DEFINITELY, guilty of taking things personally and thinking everyone is out to get me. But, even I can keep myself in check sometimes. Sometimes. When you remember to take a deep breath and chill out and just enjoy yourself... then things aren't so bad and your performing might even be a little easier and better.
I just wanted to get that off my chest. I love performing. And most of these apply to me and my own thoughts, but I figured they're good reminders to other performers. Or anyone, really! We could all chill the fuck out sometimes. Or be a little more aggressive. Or just stop acting like dicks.
Yeah... stop acting like dicks everybody. It makes you look like you hate yourself. Stop hating yourself, too.