When I was a kid, I was terrified of getting things wrong. I liked to be right (many would argue that this has never changed) and liked to have everything in its rightful place. In mathematics, 2 + 2 will always equal 4. I like that. It’s a simple quandary with one of two outcomes: right or wrong. Kids love right and wrong; usually of the “I’m right, you’re wrong” inclination.
I auditioned for a part in our Year 4 Christmas play of ‘The Ugly Duckling’. I got the part of the Ugly Duckling and loved it. It was 10 minutes long, had fun little dances, nifty songs and everyone clapped at the end. Yippee! Clearly, in my 8 year old mind, I was right for this: this was acting and how it was done.
Then I reached my teenage years and, just like life, acting started to get a little more complicated and, just like life, a little bit infuriating at times.
“What do you mean try it another way? What’s wrong with the way I was doing it?”
“Nothing, I just think you can give a little bit more. Do it a bit differently.”
So as I learned there were many different facets of life, I learned that there were many different facets to performance. And somewhere along the line, a rather young me said:
“Hold on, there’s hundreds of ways to do this! And all of them are right! Maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all.”
After that point, I felt liberated. Not only was I free to change every particle of a performance, there was also no way that I could be ‘wrong’ in what I finally decided to do. My progress sped up exponentially, my performing started to really come alive and I’ve never grown tired of the possibilities of acting and performing. I would even go so far as to say that I didn’t really start acting until I acknowledged this (still loved ‘The Ugly Duckling’ mind!).
I didn’t know what I was capable of all the time I was held back by the fear of failing. But in imagination, you can’t fail. You just are. The more I think about it, the more I realise that theatre will be an equation I’ll never solve. And that’s ok.
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