Every day we hear that we live in a world that is becoming more black and white. You either believe this or you believe that. We are told that this situation has come about because of the algorithms in social media where liking or not liking leads us to simplistic choices. No single person can change this situation, so it has become the new normal and we seem to be stuck with it.
I’m interested in this situation from a performer’s perspective. Obviously panto creates a black and white world, and we love to boo the villain and cheer for the hero. Oh yes we do!
But the world we actually live in, the one that we try to represent truthfully as artists, has shades of grey in it. And it’s the tiny details of people’s behaviour that made them interesting to us.
The opening line of The Seagull asks Masha why she always wears black. She answers, “Because I am in mourning for my life. I am unhappy”. You could be thinking to yourself, “Blimey this is going to be depressing” or you could think – that’s interesting, every day she gets up and deliberately chooses to wear black as a kind of statement. She’s a bit different. I wonder if she ever laughs or what it would take to get her to. It creates a dynamic within you as you watch her.
It’s the contradictions in people that make them interesting. Think of your friends. If you know them well you probably don’t see them in one dimension. Because you know them well, you appreciate that there’s more to them. And they can still surprise you. These dynamics between people can be simple or very complex.
That’s part of the fun for the performer – they get to look for what makes people interesting, less obvious. In their training, performers learn to observe the world around them. To see but also to notice. You have to work on yourself. In 2007 the Washington Post conducted an experiment. They disguised a world-famous violinist and had him play beautiful music requiring a high level of skill in Central Station. During the hour he played, a few people stopped to look and listen, but most passed by. Interestingly several children wanted to stop but their parents dragged them onwards.
We must miss so much in the ongoing rush of our lives. Having the chance to stop and tune in with others gives us space in our lives, time to breathe and feel connected. This term I hope all our students have this opportunity to step out of their normal life each week in class and pay attention to the feelings inside what they are performing. And it’s the nuances of detail in their work that will stop it being just black or white.
Theatretrain is delighted that our schools have now reopened for the Spring term. Our awesome classes in acting, singing, and dancing have been providing teenagers and kids alike with life skills since 1992. Taking performing arts classes are proven to improve academic achievement across the board. Our classes encourage confidence, friendship, communication skills and so much more. If you would like to find out more about our weekend stage schools or your child has shown an interest in attending drama, dance and singing lessons then visit our website www.theatretrain.co.uk or follow us on Instagram by clicking here!