Dear Fellow Actors,
Did you make any New Year’s resolutions this year? Have you already lost your way?
I think the problem is the word, “resolution.” It’s kinda wimpy and lackluster, and really wanting in the “emotional energy needed to make things happen” department. Let’s stop using that word, shall we? Instead, I would like to propose a change in terminology—and in thought—for the coming year.
Let’s use the word “dare.”
A dare is a challenge to be met and conquered out of sheer spite. A dare is something you take on to prove yourself. A dare is powerful.
Inside each of us is that taunting voice (the one that sounds like that college professor you hated, or maybe your jerk uncle) that says “You? What makes you think you’re special? That you can do this? You suck! You’re never going to amount to anything. You’ll never succeed, so why even try?”
That voice can be such an asshole. But listen to that voice again, and you’ll hear that it’s actually a dare. Prove that voice wrong. Throw out the wimpy resolutions, rise to the challenge, and dare to make this year amazing instead.
I dare you:
- I dare you to read more plays. Read more plays to find new monologues. Read more plays to be more aware of what is out there. Read more plays to get more practice reading beneath the words for the subtext, because that is what we act on, and that’s what we need practice seeing.
- I dare you to go see more shows, especially new work. See more shows so that you know which companies you might want to work with, especially if you’re new to the scene. If you’ve been on the scene for a while, go check out what new companies are doing, because you might be surprised at the talent that’s out there. If you have to choose between something that’s done yearly, and something you’ve never heard of, go see the new plays that Workhaus Collective or Red Eye are doing, or something devised by Sandbox Theater or Savage Umbrella. Give the new and untested work a chance, because it can be really exciting. Go see more shows to support your fellow artists. And go see more shows to study what other actors do onstage—you can learn both what to do and what not to do by watching others.
- I dare you to take a class or a workshop. Expand your skills! Has it been a year (or ten) since you’ve last taken a class? Do you work regularly and therefore believe you don’t need a class? If it’s been a while since you’ve practiced your skills in an environment outside a production or since you’ve added any new skills to your toolbox, it’s probably time. Brave New Workshop and HUGE Theater offer great improv classes; Michele Hutchison and Bab’s Casting both hold frequent on-camera workshops; and The Guthrie offers regular classes, including Raye Birk’s The Actors Workout, a scene study class specifically geared towards working professionals. You can also find classes advertised here.
- I dare you to do some personal administrative work. Yeah, that one sounds really boring, but stick with me a second. Set up a website. Make your voiceover demo. Put together your on-camera reel. Start writing a blog regularly. Update your resume, goddammit! (editor’s note—you could get a Talent Profile!) How many months (or years) will you put off these things because they seem daunting?
- I dare you to start small, but steady. Make the big goal, but then break it down into little pieces. Ask yourself, “What can I do today?” We can flounder when progress happens too slowly and getting to our goal can seem enormously daunting. Making little steps every day and tracking how close you are getting to your goal can help you get there.
- And last, I dare you to enlist a friend to help you keep on track. Find someone and dare them to make some goals this year, then check in with each other on a weekly basis to keep each other honest.
Now I’ve enlisted you for me. I want to do all these things myself—see more shows, read more plays, take more classes, administer my career like the business it is, and not feel despair when I don’t accomplish the big goal all at once. If you see me or check my progress on my blog, ask me how my goals are going, and I’ll do the same for you.
I dare you.