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Artistic Diet and Exercise

October 5, 2013

Imagine an athlete who is training on a strict schedule to achieve a fitness goal. Hours of running, stretching, weights, drills. At the end of the day, the athlete collapses, barely taking the time to eat a few handfuls of chips  or chug a soda before crashing into bed. The athlete is tired, weakened, depressed, and unmotivated. Because on this quest for greatness, the athlete forgot the key to complete success: supplementing the workouts with proper nutrition and rest. OKAY, you tell me, WHO WOULD DO THIS TO THEMSELVES?! Anyone training at that level knows they need to take care of their whole body.

I spent my summer performing as an ensemble member of a musical. It’s been a while since I’ve had an ensemble role, and it was an adjustment for me to step back into. Every day I dreaded going to rehearsal. I was frustrated by the quantity of work I was given, and by the low-level of expertise I needed to complete my task. I couldn’t get invested into the story of the show, and slowly started caring less and less about what happened onstage in scenes other than my own.

WHAT WAS HAPPENING? Had I lost my spark? Was I checking out because I thought I wasn’t important enough to the production? Most importantly to me, was my worth as a performer and a person suddenly equal to the size of role I was playing?!


After realizing I was not the only cast member who was feeling like this, I tried to figure out what was going on. We were doing the workout, but our “food” wasn’t artistically fulfilling. The show itself wasn’t satisfying me in the ways that I need. Because we were directed as placeholders to fill out the story, rather than living the story ourselves, many of the ensemble members were unhappy with their place in the production. Some of this I accredit to the script/story. Some of this also goes to the director’s vision. Ultimately I decided to find out how I could most enjoy myself onstage. I found moments  of happiness, and looked forward to those moments as I started each performance. I created meaningful relationships offstage with fellow actors, and invested in our backstories so that when we shared glances onstage, it felt more like LIVING.

Will I ever do this show again? Hopefully not. Will I ever be in ensemble again? Absolutely yes. Doing this show helped me learn that sometimes turning down a show because it won’t feed your soul is a totally okay thing to do. Regardless of the paycheck, or the artistic workout, usually the best thing we can do for ourselves as performers is pair that workout with a kick-ass artistic diet.


One Comment leave one →
  1. October 5, 2013 8:22 am

    Great post! Nothing worse than being in a show where you can’t wait for it to end. I’m glad you made this discovery for yourself. It will definitely help you be happier in the future.

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