Thursday, September 25, 2014

From Theater to Life: The 8 Things I've Learned So Far

This post is long overdue, and I’m mentally slapping myself in the face because I really do suck at consistently posting blog entries.

But this entry is going to be a long one, so brace yourself to whoever is reading this as I will type my thoughts, sentiments, and violent reactions about my experiences back in my theater school (actually it’s just a workshop but theater school sounds way cooler).

I could say that as much as I am that girl with the soft voice, the girl who usually shies away from the crowd, the girl who fears public speaking, the girl who is a little bit socially inept—I enjoy performing. I really do. I’m a huge fan of the arts—plays, musicals, concerts, movies, and I want to be a part of those in the future. One of the reasons why I enjoy these is because I see these performing artists, these movie actors and actresses, bringing a story to life not just through words, but through actions. I like how they get to step inside the shoes of a different person from time to time, I mean, you don’t usually get to do those. Everything’s full of life and in motion, pretty much the opposite of my life which is currently dull and passive. I admire their creative talent and I would love to venture into what they are venturing some day.

That is why back in elementary (3rd grade) I joined the Drama club, and out of all the clubs that I’ve joined every year back in elementary, the Drama club was my favorite. Back in high school, I took up vocal lessons because I wanted to be the next Kim from Miss Saigon or Sandy from Grease or even one of the Von Trapp children. I used to be in the Production Arts club for three years straight and never switched clubs, ha-ha. Fast forward college, well, I didn’t join the Theatre Guild since there was some embarrassing initiation and I can’t really handle the training hours required since I go back and forth from home to my university. So during the summer, my parents enrolled me in an educational theater association, and I took up Theater Arts and Basic Acting.

The time I took up summer and weekend theater courses, I expected that same thing as to what I did back in elementary and high school; fun and easy tasks. You just need to plan, practice, and then perform it. By the time I stepped into the Theater Arts and Basic Acting workshops, it’s as if all the exciting butterflies in my stomach died, the rainbows circling in my head turned to thunderstorms, and all my positive assumptions about acting were dumped into the trash. I was on a ticket to (temporary) hell.

After all the fun, tiring, and brainfucking weeks of the workshop, I fairly concluded that what I enrolled was not basic at all. I think that basic is an understatement. It was soul-crushing and gut-wrenching. But if that is only just basic acting, I couldn’t imagine what intermediate acting will be like. It would probably be like going into the second layer of hell. Kidding aside, it truly was on eye-opener. After our final showcase (which was like, our graduation,) I was craving for more. As much as majority of the time it was truly tiresome, I was craving for more. I told myself, “Yes, this is the kind of tiring that I want to have—the fulfilling one."

From there, I have come out with 8 things that I’ve learned from theater (minus the technical things) that I could bring into my everyday life. They’re pretty useful for me.

1. WARM-UPS ARE A MUST. Why warm-up you say? Eventually, if you don’t, you’ll warm up by the time you’ve stepped on the stage, and that’s rude (according to my theater coaches, which I heartily agree). I could say that as someone who used to do this, it was a very brutal task for me when we were doing the warm-ups. I was so not used to it, but when I learned to add this one important routine prior to going on stage, it definitely helped me. I would say I’d be screwed if I didn’t warm up. (And oh yeah, I was screwed on one of my performances because I didn’t warmed up. It was embarrassing, really.)

Simple warm-ups such as stretching, neck rolls, tongue twisters, and jumping up and down are good practices. We used to this and our theater coach incorporated it with inspiring music so that we could stay motivated. If you're already used to it, you'll find it very relaxing and comforting, as it'll wipe away those battered bones in your body.

2. STAY COMMITTED. In the context of work, if you’re so into what you’re doing, then that’s how you’ll probably manage to go somewhere. Being committed to something means you have goals in your life, and that you have dreams and aspirations. Having a commitment and sticking to it, and working really hard for it will lead you to where you want to be. It shows that you have faith, strength, and determination to do a task. Similar to theater, if you’re given a script—you better make it happen and work your arse off!

3. BE SENSITIVE. React, react, react! I keep on hearing this word over and over again. There really are some upsides and downsides when it comes to being sensitive. Being overly-sensitive is the bad one, yeah. But being sensitive to your surroundings shows that you’re at least aware of what’s going on. Reacting makes everything seem to be more dynamic. Being sensitive means that you’re responsive to the situation, and that’s what makes it interesting. Why not make your life interesting, right? And this brings me on to my next point that:

4. PRESENCE OF MIND IS IMPORTANT. Before my theater class starts, we would stand in a circle and one of my theater coaches would ask us, “So, what caught your attention today?” Thank goodness I was one of the last people to ask this question because nothing really caught my attention that day. The time before I went to class was rather dull, nothing pleasing or surprising to notice. But during theater class, I now learned how to appreciate even the smallest things. I learned how to observe more, feel more, and to keep my mind more agile. Being curious of what’s going on around you really has its advantages.

5. EMBRACE YOUR FEARS. Intimidation does strike fear to the weak. I’m probably one of the weak ones. Like what I just mentioned earlier, knowing that I was one of the youngest in the class, my ball of excitement for the course just deflated, but this shouldn't be the case. As much as they have more experience than me, that should pose as a motivating challenge to do better. Also, knowing that my shyness is my biggest weakness, it shouldn't affect me. I highly regret not volunteering that much in class because of fear. Based from experience, no matter how stupid I looked during the exercises, or no matter how wrong I did, the class would just laugh and move on. My classmates were too busy improving their own performance to give a flying funk on my performance. Mistakes will happen eventually, and that’s okay—our mistakes are the best teachers. Besides, you’re there to learn from everybody.

6. BE OPEN. “Open your soul, open your heart, open your mind,” I remember what my theater coach said. Being open is one important aspect when it comes to theater because it helps you discover things not only from others but also from yourself. I’m not much of a talker, and I stay in silence majority of the duration of our group discussions, and that’s as equal as being a selfish person. If you have something worthy of saying that will be give more input to the discussion, just go ahead. In life, it’s also best to learn how to be generous.

7. LISTEN. Of course, if you have a lot to say, say it with worth. Don’t say it for the act of saying it. In theater (as well as in life,) one should also learn how to listen. That’s how you comprehend, that’s how you agree or disagree, that’s how you evaluate, and that’s how you form opinions— through listening first. Listening is one way to communicate more effectively.

8. HAVE FUN. I could not stress this enough. Of course, if it's your passion, have fun! I could say that there will be times in life that you will encounter major hurdles and frustrations, but as the song Rainbow goes, “As long as the world still turns, there will be night and day.” Tomorrow’s another day. Stop over-thinking and let everything go the way it has to go, and let it naturally flow. Embrace the moment

“But what if it doesn’t work?” Well, might as well consider the #1 on the list? 

In the end of it all, what I learned from theater that I can bring to life is that we shouldn't be really complacent. What struck me the most on what one of my theater coaches said is that you have to just plunge in. I learned how to be more conscious in my surroundings and to be more sensitive not only what’s around me but also to myself. I had the opportunity to interact with different types of people and how to be more confident in my abilities, as well as to learn how to be giving.

When it comes to acting, pretending to be someone else is not easy. Just like any other professions out there, you always have to improve your craft no matter how far you think you've come. Rome wasn’t built in a day, they say, so make each and every day be a learning experience for you. That's why I entitled this post ...The 8 Things I've Learned So Far since I know that there's still more room for me to grow and embrace new knowledge. After all, you keep on learning until your dead, so might as well keep it up.

Break a leg! Not literally, though!

"You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star."
— Friedrich Nietzsche

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hello, viewer! Your comments are highly encouraged here. Feel free to post your thoughts!

I would appreciate it too if you spread the word about my blog! Many thanks!

- A