Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lessons Learned

Hello to all my beloved readers out there!  I can't believe my first semester here is half-way done!  Well, actually, I can sort of believe it; I've been working my butt off since I got here.  I sincerely apologize for not keeping up with this blog as I have been swept up in a flurry of musical theater schooling the likes of which I had scarcely dreamed!  I have been too exhausted lately even to make myself food other than toast, let alone assemble my thoughts for a publication detailing my adventures.  I have, however, been keeping a running mental list of some of the choicest lessons I am learning here to share with my devoted, if minuscule, following.  Here they are, in no particular order.

Lesson 1:
Praise and criticism must both be taken in a stride, allowing neither to distract you from focusing on the task at hand and both to propel you to increased achievement in their own way.

Lesson 2:
Give your body what it needs! 
It is insanely important to get enough sleep and to eat well, or at the very least take a multivitamin.  And don't forget to hydrate!  The regimen of classes here is extremely physically taxing; I am sore and tired all the time from the sheer exhertion of it all!  Listening to my body when it needs rest and nourishment are key to maintaining my health so I am always at the top of my game.  Honestly, the last time I've had to pay this close attention to my body was when I was in Ghana, performing manual labor under the hot sun of the Equator.  Which brings us to our next lesson...

Lesson 3:
Food is fuel!  I have never noticed such a direct correlation between when and what I eat and how I feel.  Because of this, I will probably never eat fast food again.  Sure, it's cheap, but it actually slows me down and makes me feel crappy until it's out of my system.  I feel the best when I eat lots of protein and some carbs without too much sugar or salt.  Fresh fruit is always nice, but not usually possible, financially.  I only drink water throughout the day, because other drinks aren't worth the money or added sugar.

Lesson 4:
You can never have too many connections as an actor... or as a person.
Personal connections to people you know and love and who know and love you are crucial.  I've never relied so heavily on my family and close friends, or my faith, for that matter.  All of them have helped to keep me grounded and sane through the roller coaster of this extremely challenging experience.  I talk to someone from my family or circle of best friends every day.
As far as acting goes, this philosophy applies to the fact that acting is, among other things, about making connections with your character, the other characters, the scenery, your character's backstory... the list goes on, and it's impossible to be too specific, so dive right in!  Specificity = an honest and believable performance.  Also, connections will keep you grounded and focused as an actor.

Lesson 5:
Early is on time, on time is late, late is RECAST!
True, I became familiar with some version of this philosophy during my time in the BPHS Marching Band, but the hilariously threatening tone of this phrase never fails to bring home the reality of my situation; in just over a year, I will be finished at AMDA and tossed into the cut-throat world of professional performance, and the harder things are for me here, the easier I will make that adjustment.

Lesson 6:
If you think you can't, you probably can.  Never say "I can't."

Lesson 7:
Never make excuses.  Just make it right.

Lesson 8:
Know your limitations and accept your humanity.  You're going to make mistakes and sometimes you're going to fail miserably.  Don't let that derail you; let it ignite a fierce determination to succeed.

Lesson 9:
Always keep your lights on.
No, this does not mean to waste electricity, but rather refers to the fact that even if you are concentrating hard on learning a new dance step or sight-singing a piece of new music and especially if you are performing a piece of choreography or a song or a scene, your face must always say "I know exactly what I'm doing and I enjoy doing it."

Lesson 10:
Hard work really pays off, and as my grandma always used to say, "Anything worth having is worth working for."

Lesson 11:
I was born to be a professional performer, and every aspect of my life, every tick in my personality, every experience and triumph and failure leading up to this has prepared me in some way to succeed here.  I have never been so sure of anything in my life as I am sure that I belong exactly where I am, doing exactly what I am doing.

And that's really all I have to say on the matter.  :)