6 Ways To Stay Creative As An Actor During Isolation
In this current climate, we have to take each day as it comes; that is something I learnt quite quickly. In all honesty, this sudden world wide lock down, left me low-spirited and disheartened. My cousin and I joked about not counting this year and coincidentally I have decided that next year I will still be 21. As this is a global situation and multiple people are probably feeling the same way, I’m sure we could get that in motion, sign a petition or something!
All jokes aside, being in isolation is hard; not having a solid routine and having no motivation for anything, let alone your once a day government permitted exercise. But we all know why we are being subjected to this form of almost house arrest and I urge you to always look on the bright side of life. Yes I do mean to quote Monty Python’s catchy tune. It is important to remind yourself that you cannot control the situation but what you can control is how you respond. As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “Not being good or bad, but thinking make it”, meaning nothing is good or bad but merely what the person makes of it, it is completely your choice to turn this situation into a positive one and decide to level yourself up.
We have been given an opportunity to be still (albeit an unorthodox one). It’s difficult to stay motivated in stillness but this is the perfect time for an actor to improve a skill they have since neglected and enhance their knowledge of the craft.
So fill your cup to half full and try out these 6 ways to keep your creativity ticking over during this lockdown.
1. Watch more Theatre
Obviously I don't mean watch more theatre in the conventional way, but rather online. A wise teacher once ridiculed my class because no one had been to the theatre in the last two weeks and he was highly disappointed. He asked the question, “How can you be budding actors without frequently attending the theatre?”. That statement has always stuck with me, and ensured I went to see a show at least once a month. No matter my lack of finances or busy schedule, I will always make an effort for theatre.
Here are two ways you can watch theatre productions online:
Digital Theatre+ is a great website that offers full length productions and interviews with directors and actors.
National Theatre is now offering a series on Youtube where they stream a theatre production every Thursday evening at 7pm (GMT).
No it’s not in person but it’s “as live” online, and that's the next best thing. So microwave your popcorn and settle into your sofa, because there is nothing better than having theatre brought straight to your living room.
2. Learn 10 new Monologues (5 classical and 5 contemporary)
The same teacher who advised me to watch more theatre, told me he knew an actor who had a list of monologues and each one was at a brilliant performance standard. He would walk into an audition, hand the list to the adjudicators and allow them to choose. I mean can you imagine being that confident in multiple Shakespeare monologues, knowing what every early modern english word means, and oozing confidence in your knowledge of each play and character backstory. Want to stand out tremendously from your competition? All you need to do is get learning!
3. Learn to play an Instrument
If you play an instrument, and like me the passion has expired, use this time to rekindle the love. Or how about learning a new instrument if you can get your hands on one. I am currently practising 30 minutes of cello daily (disclaimer: my cello videos will be gracing your Instagram feed very soon). Set yourself goals such as learning a specific piece to performance standard or giving your family a Friday night concert in the living room. Being an actor musician is a great skill to have and helps you stand apart. But the important thing is just to start and you will be surprised as to how quickly you will pick up this skill.
4. Create a Theatre Company
Gather a group of people that you trust and believe to be spectacular performers ( I do mean the best of the best) and create a theatre company. Make the most of this time you have been given and begin by spitballing ideas; once normal life returns you can all hit the ground running. Use this time to agree upon your company name, logo, set up your social media and create your website. These things are usually time consuming but all you have is time, right? Plus with technology you can have regular meetings in your kitchen and discuss your future production.
5. Increase your Vocabulary
As an actor a wide lexicon is very important, the more you understand a word, the more you will use it when you speak. I am a dedicated explorer of what I call big words, when I was 17 I started a list on my phone with new words. So anytime anyone would say a ‘big’ word I would immediately google the meaning then add it to the list. Maybe start with a new word a day, 7 words a week - easy. The dictionary app gives you an option to have an alert and receive the word of the day if you wanted to get a headstart. But you can't stop there, watch speeches and\or lectures and read, read, read. Use the words in social situations to truly grasp their nuance.
6. Focus on your fitness and well being
Keeping healthy is very important! It is easy to slip into an unmotivated slump where you lack the energy to do anything let alone exercise, (trust me I have been there). Shake this feeling off with a brisk walk, light jog or one of the many home workouts that Instagram and Youtube are crawling with. Once you have accomplished this, I promise you will feel happier, motivated and bursting with endorphins. Remember, when this is all over you want to be on top of your game when entering the industry; confidently do that movement part of the audition or be stood at the front of your weekly body conditioning class.
Additionally, maybe think about meditation. We should already have strategies in place to keep us calm before an audition or show. Keeping our anxiety down is more important now than ever. So take time out of your day to just breathe, there are lots of platforms you could follow for example Head Space or Happy Not Perfect. Once you do this your brain and body will be ready to kick start your creative streak.
And there you have it, 6 tried and tested ways to keep those creative juices flowing. Remember creativity takes courage, be proud of yourself and celebrate the small victories in this current situation.