The past two weeks have been a crazy stress fest. I think this past Sunday was the first rehearsal in two weeks where the entire cast was all there. And, further, I think that was only the second rehearsal where everyone was actually present.
What?! That is insane!
It is extremely difficult to feel like you are progressing somewhere when you constantly have to go back and re-do something because an actor (or actors, yes plural, as in more than one) wasn’t there when you went over it the first time. Especially since, as I have mentioned previously, this is an ensemble piece with all actors being on stage at all times.
Now, for the most part, the reasons various (again, yes, more than one) actors have had to miss rehearsal have been beyond their control. Life is messy. Shit happens. It can’t be helped. One actor had a family emergency that took them out of the province for 10 days. Another actor became seriously ill and missed two weeks of rehearsals and due to the uncertainty of her situation I had to re-cast the role.
Those were circumstances that could not be helped and although it is stressful these things happen. We deal with them the best way we know how (in my case with a lot of red wine).
However, at the same time as this was happening with these two actors there were also major life-crises happening with other actors in their personal lives. Again, can’t be helped. Life is messy. Shit Happens. But when it starts to effect the ability of an actor to come to rehearsal prepared and ready to work then I get very stressed indeed.
So, here is my message to all actors (and one which I conveyed to the cast Sunday after I had just about reached my breaking point):
Your body is your vessel. The same way a singer must take care of the instrument that is their voice so too must an actor take care of their instrument: their body. Your body inhabits this character that you take on. Your body walks like the character. Moves like the character. Talks like the character. Part of doing your job as an actor is to do what is necessary to take care of your body so that you can inhabit and move this character through space and on stage. This includes taking care of your emotional health because we all know the way emotion & stress can manifest and affect our physical health. This is a fact. If actors are not healthy in mind & body it makes it very difficult to be prepared and ready to work. Taking care of yourself properly is something every person should learn how to do but for actors it is crucial. It is part of your job.
Director “Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love”