The “Right” Way To Warm Up Before A Show

April 28, 2019 7:22pm

All done with opening night!!

I included a photo degradation of my emotional state/ prep before I go on stage. Some people might think (And I’ve been lauded and other times judged by fellow actors on my focus and commitment to warming up before a show) I take my job too seriously, or I “prep” too much, but I don’t think there’s any certain way, or rather right way it takes for a person to get into character.

For me, its vocal warm ups and an ass load of stretching. Listening to music is nonnegotiable, and making sure I’m alone and making it a point to separate myself from the rest of the cast is of utmost importance.

I create playlists for each character I play to help me get in tune with they who they are and so when I stretch (I’m talking legs- in- the- air- get- every-muscle- in- my- body- to- wake- up- and- say- hello, 30+ min stretch) I can begin to let that part of them, their energy sink and absorb into me. Because even if you’re just sitting in a chair the whole time, your body has to be buzzing! It has to be relaxed and ready to move at any second and active! ZING!

And while I do all this I try to remember to breathe (I ALWAYS forget, mostly when I’m stretching!!) because that always seems impossible to remember as an actor when we are on stage even though it’s our bread and butter- without breathing it’s hard for us to connect to our emotions.

 

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So while it may seem extreme, unnecessary or whatever to other actors and I may look like a fool, of like I’m trying to be Christian Bale, that’s fine- we all do our own thing. Truth is, I wish I would have had this precision and focus back when I played Konstantin in The Seagull when it came to warming up my physical body. I will say, I did have one helluva playlist that Got. Me. There. but I didn’t take care of my body and I wonder what my performance could have been if I would have taken the time to go beyond music. Because my biggest problem I encountered with that role, which just so happened to be my very first lead ever, as well as my New York debut was grounding my feet on the ground-I was all over the place. I was flailing around, my body disconnected and disjointed and my feet never really planted into the earth holding me firmly into place.

I remember the manager who actually ended up signing me from that show did immediately pointed out that I was a mess on the stage and I wasn’t grounded. Even in Stanislavski’s teachings he insists we stay present in our bodies.

So, when it came time for my next show after Konstantin is when I began my ritual and now I carry it with me. Now luckily, I’ve had professional training at The Atlantic Theatre Company Acting School for 2.5 years, so I also have a solid foundation of tools in my box, I just never knew how to utilize (let alone understand their immense value) them until now in my professional career.

In the end- find your process. Find what works. Is music your way in? Rolling around on the floor and meowing like a cat? Sitting quietly in a corner? Or socializing and then hopping on stage and just killing it?

Pictures from today of getting into character

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Working Through Mental Illness As An Actor

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From the picture on the top and left you can see the joy I have in my eyes to be involved in Brainfood, at brunchtheatre and halfthestory a collaborative show centering around mental health. This show is an amazing opportunity to be in and I could not be more grateful to be part of it.
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But can you look closely and see in that second picture that look of uncertainty, fear and sadness? There’s a resilience there too but it’s buried deep down built up over time.
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Even working on this show has been filled with self doubt and my own mental illnesses have come to the forefront rearing their ugly, monstrous heads, causing me to think I’m talentless and I don’t deserve a place in this show.
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My OCD tells me to not take breaks until I’m perfect on my lines which sometimes means hours without food or water( and “perfect” is a concept that DOES NOT and NEVER will exist for any of us -sorry my loves), my ADHD in complete juxtaposition makes it damn near impossible for me to sit down for long periods of time before I realize I am staring at dots in the wall or watching out the window and I can’t even get though the line I am trying to memorize or speak aloud to myself without stopping mid-way through.
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Being a human with mental illness is difficult enough, and being an actor on top of it I find is an interesting combo. The depth I have as a person due (also the trauma I’ve endured outside of my illness) simply due to the chemical imbalances in my brain and the experiences I’ve had because of them, allow me to tap into levels I think others cannot. But that adds a thicker wall: the ability to allow myself to be seen.
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So much stigma is alreadysurrounded around mental health (which is what this show is aiming to bring awareness to and make a dent into ending) but much of my life I’ve been told “I’m too sensitive” “dramatic” “clingy” “ moody” Well friend, some qualities can all be traced back to of my diagnoses I have that are rarely talked about- Borderline Personality Disorder.
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What I’m trying to say is- even though sadness behind my brown eyes in that second picture, (and resilience in the others) as an actor I want to work though my mental illness, try to strip back those layers, use the “you’re too _____” I’ve heard over the years (which is pure stigma blanketed over the years) and now, I want to allow myself to be seen, because that’s what this show is about. Being seen. Saying: mental illness is okay to admit and “I am struggling.”

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To think I am able to explore some of the depths of my mental illness because of an ad for a theatre company I responded to 2 years ago on backstage.com is mind blowing. I never thought that a magazine that used to sit on a table at my theatre schools and page through between classes had a website, let alone a website and that would then allow me to apply and eventually get cast, giving me the opportunity now, in 2019  return to my second season with this theatre company, is beyond me. It’s scary working though mental health problems, but I’m glad I’m being challenged in my work, and I’m glad I’ve been given the opportunity to do so.