Ch01.Blog06 Health as an artist

Ch01.Blog06 Health as an artist

by Erica Chestnut

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you must have noticed the focus on mental health in the Arts of late. With the recent concert “Out From Under”, countless articles and surveys on the issue across my newsfeed, it’s hard to go unnoticed.

I often say “no-one in their right mind would choose to be an actor.” The need to be an actor comes from somewhere other than your head – it’s not a decision or choice but an undeniable certainty. Like you can’t function without doing it.

This industry is challenging. There’s the fear of when your next job will be, how you pay rent, how you freelance and feel safe or secure, fear of success/failure, seeking approval, low self-esteem and the dreaded ‘imposter syndrome’.

Then there’s actor training. We all know someone who’s worked with a director that irreparably broke them down, or a teacher’s approach of “I’m doing this for your own good” to whittle away your sense of self to rebuild you ‘stronger’ – or (in my opinion) the general dangers of any method-style approach that asks you to go into your past hurts and traumas (and joys) to ‘find it’.

Is it any wonder mental health is a huge issue?

I read a fantastic article recently about actor processes and the notion that ‘psychotherapy has no place in acting’ from TheAtlantic.com. 

My personal approach to acting teaching is based entirely on not needing to delve into anything about YOU and your past to improve your acting. I come from the ethos of ‘do no harm’ and I believe this deeply. I believe that actors are gateways to allow people (audiences) to feel and see themselves reflected back.

We are complex, deep feeling beings that have all the necessary emotion within us – accessible without the need to manipulate or humiliate ourselves to get results. It is the very basis of why Sanford Meisner moved away from method/Strasberg/Adler style training.

I attended Dean Carey’s recent “Acting Edge” seminar where he had a similar message. He used the great example of needing to be 3 roles in 1 as an actor:

1. You, the person.

2. You, the creative artist, and

3. You, the business owner.

Each of these require a different skill set and they should be steering the ship at the appropriate time.

Erica’s top 5 Questions to ask yourself:

1. What is your definition of success? Not that of your peers, family, social or religious groups.

2. Why are you an actor/storyteller/creative?

3. What do you want from your acting/storyteller/creative career?

4. What 3 steps, no matter how small, can you take each day to empower yourself?

5. Look back at Question 1. In what ways are you ALREADY successful?

If you would like further support or information please go to Entertainment Assist

Further Reading:

If you are interested in life coaching sessions, please contact Erica on hello@livingtruthfully.com.au

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