It’s been eight years since I left LISPA, and a few months after that I was no longer trying to do any acting. But it was only a couple of years ago that friends stopped occasionally asking “Are you doing any acting?”
Because we’re so connected through social media it’s easy to think everyone knows everything I’m up to. But, understandably, they often have no idea. And they’re even less likely to know what I’m not up to. How would anyone detect my lack of interest in finding roles, even if they read every single one of my tweets, poor things?
It was a relief when friends gradually stopped asking about what acting I was doing, because I felt bad about doing none, given all those evening classes and then two years of training… and then nothing. Why did I bother?
So when, earlier this year, I started doing some acting classes again I didn’t tell many people because I didn’t want to confuse everyone. It’d be doubly confusing if I soon stopped again. But it’s been fun and challenging, and I’m still going, and so I don’t care if you know.
I think the reason I gradually stopped, after LISPA, was that I didn’t really know what to do. LISPA was very geared towards devising new work, of a physical theatre nature. I found the devising really difficult. Not the ideas and development, but the process of working (which I wrote about afterwards). I didn’t want to do any more of that for a long time. And although I like some physical theatre, I really wanted to do some… non-physical? normal? theatre. Being in a play with a script and a director… that would have been such a relief!
But even if I’d wanted to continue with collaborative devising, most of the people I’d have enjoyed doing that with from LISPA left the country, going back home. So I didn’t really know what to do, or who to do it with. I auditioned for a few student and no-budget short films, which was OK but was increasingly hard to be enthusiastic about. I didn’t want to do more part-time or evening classes — I felt like I’d done enough classes for now and needed to somehow do actual stuff… but with no clue how, I gradually stopped entirely.
Jump forward a few years and last year I was chatting with some friends, and we somehow ended up talking about acting and I realised how interesting I still found it, as a thing to try and do well, and I realised how much I missed it.
So this year I looked around for places that taught the Meisner technique, which I’d read about (my notes) and had the briefest taste of a decade ago. I settled on trying classes at the Salon Collective and for a few months, until the summer break, I went once or twice a week and… it’s been great.
I may write more about what I’ve done there in a separate post, but I’ve loved getting back into acting: using my body (rather than my usual days of moving only my typing fingers); trying to behave honestly in a very artificial situation; trying to lose everything that makes you you; trying not to think when your head is full of things to think about; interacting so closely with strangers in high-stakes situations as if they’re lifelong friends or relations. Failing and trying and failing and trying again.
Even aside from the classes and the activity itself being enjoyable and absorbing, it’s been great to have something else. Last year I’d been getting in a huge rut, work-wise. I’ve rarely had any idea where my so-called career is going, or how to direct it, and I was becoming pretty despairing about it all. This year I’ve had something else, something very, very different to split my focus, and that’s helped everything. I feel bigger and better and happier. I spend less time agonising about work and so have enjoyed doing it more. The spare brain cycles I’d have spent worrying about “career” have been spent creating back-stories and emotional preparation and… well, maybe more about that next time.
I’ll be starting more classes shortly, until the end of the year. I’ve no idea what I’ll do then, but hopefully I’ll feel a bit more momentum this time and it’ll carry on, somehow.
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