It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and to get out of a routine of working on your craft. Whether you took a break from theatre due to COVID closures, burnout, or just life getting in the way, it can feel a bit overwhelming to come back to your artistic practices. Now that you’ve made the choice to come back to your art, you may feel as though you’ve let your skills go and that you don’t know where to start.
First, spend some time with material that inspires you. Re-reading a favorite play, going to see a local theatre production, or watching a pro-shot of a musical can be great ways to remind yourself what you love about your craft. Study the performances of other actors and explore what aspects of their performance excite you. This can give you ideas about what areas of your craft you’d like to focus on developing. Finding materials that inspire you and that you are motivated to work on can be a great place to start when first coming back to your craft.
Roll out that yoga mat
Ah yes, the trusty yoga mat – a staple of drama school. Has yours been collecting dust in the corner of your room for a while now? Try committing a small amount of time every day to using your mat. This could be for a deep stretch, meditation, or voice and speech work. If you’re able to set aside even 15 minutes of focused time for yourself and your art every day, it will create a lasting habit and often lead you to finding more time for creative practices. If you’re looking for somewhere to start, check out our blog on acting exercises you can do alone or try out this voice and speech warm up from the National Theatre below!
Don’t try to build back all your skills at once. The pressure to “get back” to the level of performance you used to be at can feel overwhelming and leave you frustrated. By choosing one area of your craft to focus on, you can begin to chip away at your goals in a more manageable way. Start by writing out all of your goals. Perhaps you want to start by finding a few new monologues or by refreshing your repertoire?
Choose goals that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely).
Then, decide which skills you want to prioritize working on. Setting specific, achievable goals, and giving yourself enough time to feel confident with your material is the best way to set yourself up for success.
Keep Track of Your Progress
Every time you take a dance class, do an acting exercise, or learn a new song for your repertoire, you are actively improving your skills! Keep a practice journal, or write down on your calendar each time you have a day where you worked on your skills. Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest through the trees, but by having a physical record to keep track of the time you’re committing to your artistry, you can take a look back and be proud of all the progress you’ve made. Voice notes and videos are other excellent ways of keeping track of your progress. Take a video/voice note the first time you work through a monologue or a song, and then re-record in a few weeks time after you’ve worked on the material further. You’ll be amazed at how much difference there will be from the first recording to the second!
Sometimes, the scariest part of coming back to your craft can be the first time you stand up in front of an audience again. Sharing your work with an audience can be very vulnerable and exposing, but audience feedback is a huge part of any artistic process. Be bold with your work! Don’t let the fear of failure hold you back from sharing your art with the world. If taking the plunge still feels scary, why not start with a low-stakes situation? It could be singing at karaoke, going to a dance class that you feel super confident in, or finding a local open mic night. Once you rip off the metaphorical Band-Aid, your confidence will grow and the next time you get on stage will feel a little more comfortable.
Celebrate the Small Wins
Don’t forget to celebrate your achievements along the way! It takes a lot of dedication and practice to keep up your artistic skills and any progress you make on your craft is worth celebrating. There is always something to be learned from your wins and from your failures. No time spent working on your craft is wasted time. Be proud of the challenges you’ve overcome and the goals that you’ve completed. Now, get out there and keep going on your theatre journey!