Challenge Yourself Through Other Performing ArtsBy Ty Unglebower • Mar 3rd, 2010 • Category: An Actor's Advice
What do a ballet, an opera, and a poetry reading all have in common?
Two things. I have never been to any of them, and I embarrassed by that in all three cases.
An actor must not only absorb the reality of life around him in order to create it on the stage. I have spoken on this before. Yet an actor is also well advised to take in how performers of other types take in the reality of life around them. How they bring about the emotional response that is common to every performing art, despite the vast differences in execution.
Of course the list of possible media is not limited to the three I used in my example. Art galleries, photography exhibits, modern dance shows. An actor needs to feed on all such things. Even the kinds of art that he may not find the most interesting.
In fact those that are least appealing at first that will challenge the actor the most. If you read my blog or these columns you know how much I feel an actor should challenge himself.
“Why is sitting through something that bores me a good type of challenge?” you ask. I will use myself as an example.
I am not a fan of ballet. (Which is one reason I have not yet attended one.) But if I were to take my own advice, I would embrace the chance to see one, because it would give me an opportunity to see how ballet dancers express the same ideas about the human condition that I myself express as an actor. I need to challenge myself by truly entering into the spirit of a ballet; to dig deeply into it’s nature, and that of its cast, to find the common ground between what I do, and what they do. The operative word being common. Instead of concentrating on the fact that an opera singer isn’t doing what you like to do, try to find out how they are causing what you like to cause; an emotional response in their audience.
I am not suggesting that you must go to every opera or ballet you come across in order to be a good actor. Nor do I mean that you must suddenly become fans of something that you do not enjoy. We all have different forms of expression which move us. But I am suggesting that once in a while you overlook those obvious differences in taste, and focus instead on what is common between what you do as an actor, and what a painter has done with a canvas, or a musician has done with a piano. If you can find that common ground, you will be a better actor because you have tapped into other ways to express it to a crowd. You will have learned something from the opera you can take with you to the play.
And, worst case scenario, you end up surprising yourself and become a fan of opera. Either way, everyone wins.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/4752.
Ty Unglebower is a Maryland native and has been acting for nine years, having studied it at Marietta College in Ohio. He has been schooled in Shakespeare, improvisation, public speaking and voice articulation throughout his career. His credits to date include over 30 plays and readings as well as 2 films. You can also read his blogs offbook.blogspot.com (for theatre related thoughts) and tooxyz.blogspot.com (for thoughts on personal success from an outcast). Follow him on Twitter @TyUnglebower.