I went for an audition a few days ago for a company that regularly performs the works of the Bard to great critical acclaim. The audition was relatively straight forward. Chat to the director, then perform one Shakespeare, one contemporary and then work one of the speeches with the director. All this I have done before. Bear with me; I am getting to my point… In the space of five short minutes under the instruction of this particular director, I was forced to re-evaluate my whole approach to the text, with the upshot being a performance I never could have achieved on my own. I left the room hoping very much to work with this director again, but thinking – whatever the outcome – that I had learned something important in that little room. Thanking him for the experience I left the room excited and with a real bounce to my step… On the bus journey home it dawned on me: challenge. That is what has been missing from my working life.
I have harped on about Metamorphoses in many of my blogs, because that play was special for many reasons. It has taken me until now to identify that one of the reasons that the play was so exciting, was because the work was inherently challenging. The subject matter was both delicate and brutal, the quality of performance from the other cast members continually forced me to ‘up my game’ and the director had a clear insight into the text and what she expected. It was rarely easy but it was always frustrating, fascinating and fantastic by turns.
The dictionary definition of challenge in this context is as follows:
Challenge: (noun) a test of one’s abilities or resources in a demanding but stimulating undertaking.
The key word here is stimulating. As an actor, it’s very easy to become complacent about your craft, to settle into comfortable parts, to stay within your comfort zone. Years ago as a student, I never understood why I would wish to step out of that safe zone; after all I knew what I was doing there… not so now.
Being safe is DULL. But being challenged? Well, as I demonstrated earlier, that can cause you to produce work you never thought was in your capabilities… And that is why I love Hecate. Like the goddess the company derives its name from, nothing is ever serene or predictable; the pieces are always challenging and unique and because of this, always rewarding.
So! Now that I’ve realised I need a challenge, I just have to find one!
All offers and suggestions are welcome…
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