In high school, college, and well into my late 20’s I was an actress. While I eventually discovered the wonder that is film, I was primarily a stage actor. Last night I was talking to a friend and gave her some advice that she considered insightful. I explained it was something instructed to me ad nauseam by directors back in the day.
This got me thinking, what other insights are there from simple playhouse direction? I narrowed it to my three favorites and now share these insights with you. Why? Because I believe that these drama based rules can translate into wisdom in a way that we can all relate to.
Let’s do this!
- FIND YOUR LIGHT!
This means exactly what it says. If you are standing on your correct mark but the spotlight is three feet to your right…get your ass three feet to your right and stand in the damn floodlight. Don’t wait for the light to find you!
This phrasing has stuck with me since I was a teenager. It can mean so many different things. Find what makes you happy. Don’t let other’s take your mojo away from you. Listen to your heart and follow what lights you from within. Whether that is your job, your religion, your hobbies, etc. All that matters is what this means to you. Find what makes you luminous inside and cling to it.
- DON’T HUG THE FURNITURE!
There is a tendency to stand very close to the set pieces (particularly for newcomers) rather than roam around the set the way one would casually walk about a room.
In my life, this whispers, “Be brave!”
Step out of your comfort zone once in a while. Find what scares you and if you can’t bring yourself to run it over then start by inching toward it. I used to work in sales and as a result attended a gazillion networking events. Well, I get anxious in large groups of people so I invented a system for myself.
I pretended that I was the hostess of every event I had to go to. I made sure to greet people, that no one was left alone, I introduced people to each other, made sure business cards were exchanged, and that everyone had food or a drink.
The beauty was, this made me more worried for the people standing alone than for myself. It distracted me from my fear and gave me a new, more positive focus. A fun side effect of this exercise was that more often than not most people assumed I was in charge of the event and I gained a reputation for being extremely outgoing.
So go ahead and get creative. What’s forcing you to hug the furniture?
- IT’S EASIER TO TONE IT DOWN THAN BUILD IT UP!
This last theatrical decree is about projecting your voice to the audience. It’s always easier to tell an actor to talk quieter than to talk louder. Overacting is easier to correct than underacting.
Step outside of the auditorium and what does this mean to us?
When someone tries to beat you down in life, you can choose a barely audible voice or even silence. Or you can firmly express that you have every right to your beliefs, lifestyle, and personal choices. If you go too far and become the aggressor, that’s when you want to pull back and say, “That came across as rude which wasn’t my intention.” (I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt here)
Then, either begin again or work on the volume and expression of your confidence the next time you find yourself in that situation.
This concludes my tour of the trio of acting decrees. They have always stirred my imagination and lit up the darker places inside my soul. They are like guardians ensuring that I have light to lift me up, courage to go gaily forward, and the strength of spirit that keeps me true to myself.
The Bard says that all the world is a stage. If so, then perhaps each of us can learn from the most basic regulations of living on it. Thanks for reading I hope to hear from you in the comments section.