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Monday, April 26, 2010

"Rehearsal: The Importance of Attitude"

Attitude is important -- in just about anything you do. And that includes theatre. Sometimes, although the task may be great, you just have to breathe deep, take it by the horns, and make it work. And you have to do so with a positive attitude, otherwise.... you're just wasting your time.

I've been discovering this a lot with my role in "The Trip To Bountiful". Sometimes, the size and emotional scale of my character seems way too daunting. I have to feel things with Ludie that I don't usually face in my own life. I have to dive into emotions and experiences that I just haven't endured on the same scale. And it's often more of a challenge than I'd like to admit. But I still have to find a way to make it work. That's part of the job. That's part of the fun.

There are times, I'll admit, when I just don't want to go to rehearsal. I've had a long day. My mind is on other things. Or... maybe I'm just plain tired, and I want to spend more time in bed. Hours of rehearsal isn't always my favorite way of ending the day. Staying home, in my comfort zone, sounds more appealing. It's easier to be me.

But, on the other hand, there are advantages to perseverance. Persistence. Dedication. For an actor, telling a story is an oddly enticing prospect. It's a challenge. A game. A project. And when everything comes together after a long hard rehearsal period, the reactions of an audience are more than enough reward for a job well done.

It's like a deeply emotional need to bask in the focus and attention of others. Yet, also a driving passion to provide someone else with the opportunity to develop emotions of their own -- based upon the fruits of your own hard work. Good actors are some of the most fascinating enigmas you'll ever meet. We crave the spotlight, the opportunity to create, pretend, inspire. But we also feel incomplete if we haven't moved our audience in some way.

When I have one of those long tiring days where I just don't want to spend an entire evening in some rehearsal space somewhere, I have to stop, breathe deep, and remind myself... sure, it's hard work now. I may not feel up to the challenge emotionally. But when that curtain rises.... it's payday! If I give my best at rehearsal, my best in performance will be far more satisfying!

I love the attention, sure, but the truth is, I just want to impress the audience. Without them, I would be nothing more than some geeky guy babbling pointlessly to row upon row of empty chairs. In an empty auditorium. With no way of filling my deep need to tell a story. Where's the fun in that?

Rehearsals are a LOT of hard work. Anyone who tells you they're easy, is lying. But with the right attitude, perseverance, and plenty of passion... good things WILL result. You just have to have fun, work hard, be patient... and play.

Because....

Attitude and play is what theatre is all about!

-Jon

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Jon Baas

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