For more than a year we've seen folks in the performing arts create impressive work amidst the constraints of COVID. Performances and productions were virtual, socially distanced, bubbled, live-streamed--you name it. The creativity demonstrated has been incredible. Now Broadway has announced ticket sales beginning this fall. The glimmer of hope for "normalcy" is twinkling in the not-so-far-off distance.
But what if you're not part of the group who has continued to create despite COVID obstacles? Perhaps you're among many performers who experienced frustration, lack of motivation and hopelessness. (Your College MT Guide has her hand raised saying, "That's me"). What if you've been doing a little but now feel behind the curve and feel some regret? What if you love to perform but you haven't had the chance to in so long that you're not sure if you still can?
This season of COVID does not have to determine your future. Now is the perfect time to put the past in the past, hit the reset button, and begin to awaken the artist who will emerge from the other side of COVID. What follow are five steps to help begin the process of reinvigorating your performance passion post-COVID.
1) Pull Out a Favorite Song
If you haven't sung or haven't enjoyed singing lately, brush-off a song you've enjoyed in the past. ANY song. It may lead to more songs and help you find joy in singing again. Music inherently raises spirits. If you like to collaborate and have someone you can sing or play along with, like a sibling or close friend, it can add another level of enjoyment to re-discovering your voice. Revisit the warm-ups and songs that felt good and are most familiar. Begin rebuilding from there.
2) Get Moving
Start with choreography from the last show you were in before COVID hit. Find the cast recording and see how much you remember. Now take a little time to work it out and make-up moves for any parts you've forgotten. If you don't like this as a starting point, try some of Kyra Pro's Musical Dance Workouts on YouTube or put on a favorite playlist and dance to it. It might be just the thing you need to get you moving and using your body until you can get into a dance class or explore physicality more rigorously. Plus, the endorphins produced will give you a boost.
3) Workshop a Monologue
Pull out an old monologue and run through it. How much do you remember? See if you can recall all of it or try to find the script. If not, find one of Shakespeare's Sonnets and work on memorizing it. It won't be a waste of time because sonnets are great go to pieces for voice work down the line. With either piece turn it on its side, do some acting exercises, and try some new things with it.
Try delivering the whole piece as a question.
Deliver the whole piece using gestures throughout.
Try delivering it while holding back laughter.
Change who it's being delivered to or the point of view of the character delivering it.
It may be on you to replicate the rehearsal process you so dearly miss. Hold on to any new things you learn during this play time by notating, reflecting and starting a new "Post-COVID" acting journal.
4) Read Something Inspiring
I turned to my resident college-aged actor for suggestions that you may find inspiring and motivating. Books written from the vantage point of actors who have been through the highs and lows can move you in the direction of change and action. A few suggested titles include:
Failing Up by Leslie Odom, Jr.
Letters to a Young Artist by Anna Deavere Smith
The Young Actors Notebook by Dennis Hilton-Reid
5) Make a Plan
Develop a plan to further regenerate one or more of your performance areas as you move into summer. Some points to ponder:
What changes could you make each day to help you progress?
Is tackling just one area at a time better for you? If so, which one?
What's one new thing you could add to your life that would move you in the right direction?
Do you have a small group of friends who might join you on this journey? (They probably need it as much as you do.)
Begin an actor's journal or start a new "emerging from COVID" volume. Reflecting on this journey will prove helpful when other challenges come your way.
Create a calendar or checklist to help keep you on track and motivate.
Shake off any days that you aren't making progress. Being kind and extending grace to yourself will continue to be a theme.
Remember, you don't have to make strides every day. Baby steps in one area will help you get back into the swing of things again, help you progress and move forward.
Looking for help in developing your plan or need someone to help you get on track this summer? Follow this link to Work with the College MT Guide.
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