Michigan Actors Studio
When times are tough, we can lean into art
I think we have all discovered in this difficult year that when times are tough, we can lean into art. Whether it's binge-watching on Netflix or curling up with a good book, art is there to provide comfort, escape, connection and healing.
Unless you are Prince (who famously refused to listen to other musicians when he was creating a new work), as artists ourselves, we can gain just as much comfort in the practice as we do in partaking.
Those of you who've had me as a teacher, know that I can't stand when people call rehearsing "practice". But I have been thinking a lot about the term lately. And while I still think it doesn't apply to rehearsal- which is not something that should be routine or that can be perfected- I think when used to describe the overall study of the craft, it absolutely applies. It is not "acting practice" but "the practice of acting."
When we continually study, whether in class or by reading plays, working on monologues or seeing the work of others, and give ourselves time to reflect, our work grows and so do we. As we process the events in our lives and in the world around us, art can help us make sense of the incomprehensible. By examining the motivations of others, we learn to understand our own motivations. Acting helps you to discover your own point of view, by examining the points of view of others.
Personally, I have always turned to the practice of my art in times of trouble. There is something about putting your focus, energy and attention outside of yourself that can give us comfort. I continue to be grateful for the opportunity to teach. Teaching allows me to connect with others outside myself and celebrate their breakthroughs as if they were my own. I, the teacher, lean into you, the student. And in the process of that leaning, I step outside of myself. I get a break from my monkey mind. In that break there is peace. It builds my inner resolve to be present, humble and willing. It gives me the strength and understanding of what it means to give voice to the deepest, most profound and beautiful parts of us.
The art of acting has given me that.