Tag Archives: theatre

Life and Acting

"They do not love, that do not show their love." -William Shakespeare

Life Lessons learned in Acting Class

So, before I changed my major to Business Management with an emphasis in Finance, I was a theatre major at Millikin University.  There in the acting classes that I took as a freshman and a sophomore, I learned much about life and sincerity.  I was able to learn these lessons as I participated in acting warm-up activities and exercises.

Lesson #1:  Sincerity

In acting, it does not work if you are not sincere.  If the other person does not feel the intent of the message you are trying to relay, it causes him to have to work harder, rather than having the acting be a team exercise.  How we worked on this is by doing a warm-up exercise where the two scene partners would stand about two feet apart facing each other.  Each would look into the other’s eyes and then one would start by saying a statement about the other person, and then that person would repeat it.  It would go something like this:

“Person 1:  You are beautiful.

Person 2:  I am beautiful.

Person 1:  You are beautiful.

Person 2:  I am beautiful.

Etc.”

This would go on until both scene partners truly believed what the other was saying and recognized it as sincere.  Then, one of them would change to a different statement and the exercise would continue.

In life, we don’t usually have that many chances to be sincere to a person we are talking to.  Usually, we only have one or maybe two chances.  Let us try to be sincere from the beginning.

Lesson #2:  Trust

So, this acting exercise that I explained previously also helped to build trust between the scene partners.  A connection would begin to form and one partner could trust the other to pull his part of the work that went into the acting scene.  Also, by looking into each other’s eyes for what seemed at times to be an eternity, when in reality it was probably five minutes, scene partners were able to build trust with each other.  Each could watch as the walls fell down so that the two could work together acting as different people than who they actually are.

The eyes seem to be the window to the soul, and helped to cut down the time it took to trust and understand the other person’s needs.

Lesson #3:  Listening

Now, this is a huge one.  Especially in life.  I believe that this is one of the things that separates good acting from bad acting.  Good actors actually listen to what their partners give them to play with and then respond to it.  Bad actors already have what they are going to do determined in their mind and they just do what they have rehearsed regardless of whether or not their partner gives them something differently.

Listening comes as a result of sincerity and trust.  It comes as one partner realizes that the other is not going to ruin the scene by doing something completely different that does not fit.  Acting truly becomes a representation of life when the actors relate with one another and are able to play off one another in a scene.  This takes great practice and the ability to really listen to what the other person is both saying and doing.

Do we actually listen in real life?  Or do we just give one word, or predetermined answers when people talk to us?

Lesson #4:  Time

It is so important to spend time with your scene partner(s) in acting.  This is important because it is the way to really get to know someone and how he/she works best.

Time is an extremely important part of living with other people, especially those you love.  Spending time with a person is a way of telling them that you understand or want to understand them better.  It is a way of showing someone that you truly care.

Are you actually living your life or are you merely going through the motions?  I know that as I have implemented these lessons I have learned from acting class into my actual life, I have felt more like I am actually living rather than just going through the motions.  I know that our Heavenly Father is there to help and that He actually does listen to, trust, and spend time with us in sincerity.  He is reaching out to us daily.  Let us also reach out to Him.

 

Controlling Thoughts

"Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God." -Doctrine and Covenants 121:45

Our Thoughts

Have you ever just let your thoughts wander?  Do you find it hard at times to control what you are thinking about?  Do you just wish that you could guide your thoughts along carefully?

In my life, I have found it very hard at times to control my thoughts.  It is not an easy thing to do.  There is that saying that:

“As a man thinketh, so is he.”

What we think about eventually becomes who we are.  If we let ourselves think about something for long enough, then we begin to believe it and to act that way.  For example, if one thinks about how terrible he/she is and how he/she just can’t seem to do anything right all the time, then eventually that person is going to believe what he/she is thinking about.  And once that person believes, he starts acting that way, thus becoming what he thinks.

How is it done?

So, one may ask, how is it done?  How can a person control his thoughts?  A wonderful way that I have found to help me is by using worthy music to help bring my thoughts back into the light.  I have been memorizing a hymn that I can sing in my head whenever an unworthy or unwanted thought enters.

President Boyd K. Packer said this about thoughts and our mind:

“As you learn to control your thoughts, you can overcome habits, even degrading personal habits. You can gain courage, conquer fear, and have a happy life. I had been told a hundred times or more as I grew up that thoughts must be controlled, but no one told me how. I’ve thought about this over the years and have decided that the mind is like a stage. During every waking moment the curtain is up. There is always some act being performed on that stage. It may be a comedy, a tragedy, interesting or dull, good or bad; but always there is some act playing on the stage of your mind.

Have you noticed that shady little thoughts may creep in from the wings and attract your attention in the middle of almost any performance and without any real intent on your part? These delinquent thoughts will try to upstage everybody. If you permit them to go on, all thoughts of any virtue will leave the stage. You will be left, because you consented to it, to the influence of unrighteous thoughts. If you yield to them, they will enact for you on the stage of your mind anything to the limits of your toleration. They may enact themes of bitterness, jealousy, or hatred. They may be vulgar, immoral, even depraved. When they have the stage, if you let them, they will devise the most clever persuasions to hold your attention. They can make it interesting all right, even convince you that they are innocent, for they are but thoughts. What do you do at a time like that, when the stage of your mind is commandeered by the imps of unclean thinking, whether they be the gray ones that seem almost clean or the filthy ones that leave no room for doubt? If you can fill your mind with clean and constructive thoughts, then there will be no room for these persistent imps, and they will leave.”

When there is good, evil flees.  Evil does not like the light of goodness and truth.  It likes to lurk around in the dark and it brings you there as well, unless you stand up against it and know how to overcome.  In Romans 12:21 it says:

“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

We can have clean, pure, and uplifting thoughts.  Satan wants us to have dirty, impure, and degrading thoughts.  He is the one who wants us to be miserable.  Our Heavenly Father wants us to be happy and to feel of His great love for us.  I know that we are enlivened when we have clean thoughts.  I know that our lives are not as clouded over or dreary as we allow the light of Christ in and cast out evil with the good.  Let us try to clean up our thoughts and become more devoted followers of Christ.

I feel like a shape that doesn’t fit into its hole.

Recently, I have felt like a shape that does not fit into its hole.

How I feel

Recently, I have been feeling like a shape that doesn’t fit into its hole… you know the little round balls that kids play with that have different shaped holes in them for the kids to push the different shapes into the ball…Yeah, that is what I am talking about.

This feeling comes whenever I think about how I switched majors and career paths, or when I think of how much I miss theatre.  Sometimes, the Lord has a better plan for us though and we just need to overcome our pride and our own desires and trust that the Lord’s plan is better for us.

Different Material

So, as I have been thinking about this analogy, I have thought about how the shapes used to push into this ball are made out of hard plastic.  They are not able to be bent or molded to fit into a different shape’s hole.  Is this how we allow ourselves to get in this life?  I feel like I have become very much like this.

But what if the shapes were made out of something that could be bent and molded to fit into a different shape’s hole?  This material could be something like Play-dough.  With this material, the shape could be carefully molded to fit through the new hole.

Pride vs. Humility

This is so true with pride and humility.  When I think of pride, I think of the hard plastic that will not be molded; but when I think of humility, I think of the play-dough like material that is malleable and able to fit through different holes.

The Lord needs us to be able to be molded.  He needs to be able to shape us into the best that we can become.  He knows this.  He will guide us and I know that as we rely and trust on Him, He makes the shaping period easier to be borne.

I know that it is not always easy to change, especially when one has lived a certain way for a very long time, or has grown to have his or her heart rooted in a certain thing.  But even the Savior came from humble beginnings.  He came ‘as a root out of dry ground’ as it explains in Isaiah chapter 53.  And look at how great and how marvelous the Father made Him!

The Lord will help us to do His will and to be humble enough to change.  We just need to let go of our pride and allow ourselves to be easily guided.

 

Filters in Our Vision

How do you view yourself? How do you view others? Does your vision have filters?

Seeing Clearly

Do we allow ourselves to see clearly?  To see ourselves clearly?  What does it really mean to see clearly?  When I think about seeing clearly, I think about not having clouded or distorted images.  Many of us have dealt with ourselves or have seen images of people who suffer from eating disorders seeing themselves in distorted ways.  These are the examples of when a really skinny person looks in the mirror and the mirror shows someone who is abnormally huge.

That is only one example of distortion.  I think that a lot of distortion comes from the media we view and just the day to day things we allow ourselves to come in contact with.  So, is it even possible to see ourselves or others through clear eyes without distortion or cloudiness?

I believe that the clearest view of the world and of ourselves and of others that we can ever can have comes from seeing as Heavenly Father sees.  This is because He is the one who created us all, so it is through His eyes that things are clear.  He is the creator, so He knows how things are to be viewed.

This is very true in art and theatre as well.  The creator of a play, per se, the playwright, is the one who knows how the play is to be viewed, or what it was intended to bring across.  The directors of plays and producers and such put their lenses on it or their views on top of the original view and in a sense distort the play by degrees.

Theatre Lighting

In theatre, there are many different ways to affect the lighting on the stage or in the auditorium.  Sometimes stage lights have gels in them that change their color.  Other times there gobos are put in to create a stencil or pattern-like effect.  Sometimes, both are used.  Still other time, lights are purposely not focused clearly to fade the harshness of the edges of the light.  Basically, there are many ways in which the light is filtered before it reaches the stage to create what many call ‘theatrical lighting.’

Do you have theatrical viewing or lighting in your life?  Do you purposely allow or put filters on the way in which you view the world?  I think in today’s society it is hard for one not to allow society and media to put certain filters on our viewing of society and humanity.

Little girls being in beauty pageants and wearing bikinis when they are toddlers is just one example of how the media and society is telling us to view girls and women.  It is one way in which the media and society start little boys, at a very young age to expect girls to be sensual and appealing on the outside.

How do you allow society to shape your vision of others and of yourself?  Do you stand for what you believe in or do you allow yourself to be swayed with the popular belief?  Do you stand up for someone when a group of your friends are gossiping about them or talking badly about them behind his or her back?  Or do you join in the belittling?  Are you able to see past the way that the crowd views other individuals?  Is your vision clear enough to do so?

How we get a clearer view

So some may be wondering how we come to this clearer view.  I believe that it all comes from drawing closer to our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ.  They love us.  They have a perfectly clear view, without judgment or filtering.  They have a perfect love.  As we come closer to them and become more like them, we will be better able to have a clearer view ourselves of others, the world, and ourselves.

We come closer to Christ and Heavenly Father by doing the Father’s will, by keeping His commandments, by enduring to the end, and by doing the simple things among other things.  There are so many ways in which we can find ourselves coming closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

One way that I have found that has helped me come closer is to write how I see the Lord in my life each day.  Another way is by being careful with what I choose to view or surround myself with.  As Christ and Heavenly Father are pure, I want to be pure.

How can you personally come closer to Christ?  What do you have to work on?  As you work on this and continually strive and work towards coming closer to Christ, your vision will be cleared and life becomes more meaningful and less bitter, cruel, and cynical.  Life becomes better as we clear our vision.

Perfectionism

Life is not all about images.

Insecure?

Perhaps you know what it feels like.  You are on edge because you don’t think it will be good enough.  Maybe you are on edge because you don’t think you are good enough.  You never seem to do anything right…  Who determines how we are doing anyway?  Do we determine it for ourselves?  Do we let others determine it?  Our parents?  Our friends?  Those we love?  Society?  Does God determine how we are doing?

In my life, I have only been able to overcome perfectionism as I think of the only person who really matters:  Heavenly Father.  He is the one who we should be trying to please.  He is the one who gave us our bodies in the first place.  He is the one who gave us agency by choosing His Son, Jesus Christ to come down and be the Savior of the World.  He is the one who ultimately determines our destiny after life.  We should be striving to please Him.

Hiding

My perfectionism was so bad when I was younger that I hid everything that I thought was imperfect about myself from others.  I told myself that I could fix it without anybody having to know what was wrong with me, or that anything was ever wrong with me.  A simple example of this when I was in elementary school was art projects.

I did not enjoy doing art projects in front of people or other classmates.  I did not like having people look at my work while it was in the process.  I only liked having the end product, that had reached close to perfection in my eyes, to be viewed by others.  Often I would sit in class with a blank paper before me and not really do anything.  Then I would go home and spend much more time and effort on it.  Sometimes late into the night I would be working on my art or school projects.  I wasted the time I had to work on it in class because I was afraid of people seeing my imperfections and having to start over.

I felt like I needed to be perfect.  If I ever had trouble with things when I was young, I would often keep them to myself.  I didn’t want people to know that I was not doing ‘okay.’  I would just tell people that I was fine.  An interesting things that I learned about that word is that one of my English teachers in high school who said that it is an acronym for:

“Feelings Internalized Not Expressed”

The more I think about the acronym, the more I find it to be correct.

So, some may say that I was a ‘stuffer,’ someone who stuffs all of her feelings inside her, even when they want to come out, to keep an image to the outside world and to not hurt feelings.  I believe that I was more of a perfectionist than a stuffer.  I was just always taught that I need to do my best.

Getting Past Perfectionism

So, what helped me to get past extremes in perfectionism?

  1. Time:  I think one of the biggest things for me at the beginning of letting go of some of my perfectionistic attitudes was time.  This was not really until high school when I realized that I just didn’t have the time to continue with my perfectionistic behaviors.  I knew that I had to use the time that I had in school to get projects or different things done.  I just did not have time after school to get a lot of my homework and other projects done.  I learned this from experience by pulling all-nighters, even when I had used the time I had in school.  I was super busy.  I had theatre after school, sometimes until ten at night, then I would get up in the morning at four thirty to get ready for school, have scripture study with my family, go to early-morning seminary (a Bible/Scripture-study group with people my age), and then go to school.  Basically, limited time was pushing me to not be so perfectionistic.  I just didn’t have the time to be a perfect perfectionist anymore.  Doing this was not easy though.  I had to talk myself into doing things at school over and over again.
  2. Theatre:  Theatre helped me to let go of perfectionism to an extent.  This was especially true when I went to college for theatre.  As I took theatre classes at the university, I was reminded over and over again to accept and even appreciate failure.  This was extremely hard for me at the beginning.  Basically, I had it drilled into my mind that failure helps us to become better…This is true in choir as well.  Choir directors often say that it is better to sing a note loudly and wrong, than to sing it quietly and wrong or right, because then one can actually know what needs to be worked on.
  3. Recognizing my Need:  By recognizing my need for help with some things in my life that I had kept hidden from people for long periods of time, ultimately brought me to let go of my pride and seek help out.  It is worth it.  It is so worth it.  Help is an absolutely amazing and vital thing when you need it.  Yes, sometimes we need to swallow our pride and take a slice of that humble pie to actually seek the help out, but it often needs to be done.  What helped me to recognize my need was by being faithful and diligent in scripture study, prayer, and attending church meetings.  Heavenly Father does help you to become better.  Life is not all about image.

I really like this quote by Sheri Dew:

“This life is not about perfection, but progression.  It’s about persistently, consciously pressing forward–onward–and persistently, consciously trying to elevate everything from our habits to our pursuits–upward.”

Things come one thing at a time.  Let us not try to be perfect all at once.  It just simply does not happen.  Choose one thing, with the help of Heavenly Father, that you believe needs the most work in your life and progress towards overcoming or achieving it.  Heavenly Father will help.  Please seek Him and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Creative Success

To create as God creates

Recreation

One of the therapy groups I would always attend while in hospitalization programs and partial hospitalization programs for depression was recreational therapy.  This was a group where we did various activities to help us realize that there are things we can do to keep ourselves busy and relaxed at the same time.

Sometimes for this therapy group we would go on outings in the community, play games, or learn new crafts.  This was where I picked up origami again and started making paper birds, cranes, frogs, flowers, etc.  Finding time to wind down and do something that we enjoy, that does not have a deadline, is important in our lives.

Recreation is a good way to keep our lives in balance.  As we spend time with our friends and with our children or family, we are able to build and strengthen relationships.

Have you ever noticed that recreation has the root word of creation?  What new insight does this bring into our recreational activities?  In essence,  we are re-creating.  Our lives have more meaning as we learn how we can live better by how we are better able to create.

Creation

I have absolutely loved creating new things ever since I was a child.  It is and was an inherent desire.  I would color pictures and build towers and make up songs.  It made me have a sense of fulfillment or accomplishment.  I felt good.  As a child, we do not let other people’s opinions stop us from our creative intuition.

One does not have to work in the Arts to be creative.  People who come up with business plans and who find new, more efficient ways to accomplish goals, who re-arrange furniture, etc. are creative as well.  I am sure there are aspects in each day of your life where you are creative.  What has it been today?

Heightened Creation

God created the world and each one of us.  We are each one of His masterpieces.  How do we treat His creations?  We come unto Him as we recognize the creations we participate in throughout our lives.

There are ways beyond skills, talents, abilities, and hard work that allow us to better create.  Let me tell you a story to illustrate my point.

Acting

It was the afternoon in my Acting II class, and we were each to choose partners and scenes for our duo acting assignment.  I was a little concerned because I knew that the play we were choosing scenes from had inappropriate language in it that I was not comfortable saying.  I ended up with a scene where there was only one word in my part that I was uncomfortable with.

As my partner and I rehearsed multiple times, I would just skip over the word.  I hadn’t really decided what I was going to do.  It was really hard for me because I wanted to excel in the class.  I battled with myself as to whether I should use the word or not.  I counseled with my mother and some close leaders, but I still was not settled on what to do.

I even ended up going to the professor and explaining my feelings about using that type of language.  He told me that it was ultimately up to me what I would end up doing, but that he would encourage me to use the word.  He told me that by using the word, I would step onto another plateau in a sense.  I would be opening a new door that would lead to more possibilities and greater ability in my acting career.

As I left, I felt disheartened.  I didn’t know what to do.  I went to the Lord again in prayer and told him of my feelings and how I wanted to be obedient to His laws and His standards.  As I knelt and pondered, a peace came over me as I decided to not use the word.  It felt good to know that I was staying true to myself and what I believed.  I did not let the desire for success in the class, override my desire to be an obedient daughter of God.

The day that we were to perform our scenes came.  My partner and I did well.  In fact, my professor said that the scene was the best acting he had ever seen me do, and had little else to comment on.  I felt like it was my best acting as well.  It was an amazing feeling.  I know that the Lord was helping me and blessing me for my decision to stay true to Him.

The Spirit and Creation

I will stand as a witness of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places.  I know that as I do this He helps and strengthens me to be more than I am.  By staying close to His spirit, I have greater ability to create.  I love this quote by Dieter F. Uchtdorf:

“The more you trust and rely upon the Holy Spirit, the greater your capacity to create.”

As you have relied on God for help and done the little things, like reading scriptures and praying, consistently in your life, how have you seen this promise come true?  What can you do to increase your creative capacity?  I know that Heavenly Father is waiting to help us with our righteous desires, and that as we rely on Him and His Spirit, we will be better able to succeed.

 

Beyond Limitations

Do you feel like you are unable to fly?

Life.

Put simply, life is full of challenges and opportunities.  Sometimes we as individuals are unable to take advantage of the opportunities that come our way because of our lack of preparation.  Other times we are unable to take advantage of opportunities because we have limitations to what we can and can not do.

Dealing with restricted capabilities

I sat in the dark theatre with tears dripping down my face.  “What is wrong with me?”  I thought.  “I can’t even sit through a movie or a performance without crying.”  The lights brightened in the room following the credits at the end of the movie.  Tears were still streaming down my face.  I think to myself again.

“This is the whole reason why I love theatre and art so much; because it has the power to change people for the better.”  What can I do?  There is a part of my heart that seems empty and vacant from its previous occupant.

I know that I cannot just return to my old lifestyle.  I have changed.  I have become a new individual in a way with new limitations that I never felt I had to deal with before.

It is not an easy thing to change your life 180 degrees, but sometimes this change is necessary for survival.  Honestly, before depression hit, I felt like I could do whatever I put my mind to.  And yes, I probably still could, but I have new limitations in my life I am learning to deal with day by day.

I have always enjoyed going to bed early and waking up early, but it has never been a big issue for me if I chose to stay up later one evening.  Sometimes I would spend almost all night working on a project for school, other times I would be out with friends star gazing until close to one o’clock in the morning.  I have realized now that I cannot do this without having serious consequences to my mental health.  I get anxious and easily perturbed or frustrated when I have little sleep, or when that sleep comes later in the evening or earlier in the morning than usual.

Another example is in what I eat.  I have consistently striven to eat healthily since before I went into high school.  At this time, I stopped eating chocolate and drinking soda or other carbonated beverages.  I have never had a sip of alcohol in my life, and have tried to be healthy.  At times though, I would want to eat a lot of sweets in a day.  It was like my sweet tooth just got sweeter.  Now, if I do this, I can feel depression creep in.  Also, if I skip meals now, or do not eat for a long period of time, I become weepy.  It gets to the point that I can’t control it sometimes.

So, what do I do?  How do I keep going on with my life?  I just have to learn to live with my limitations and look for the positive.

Looking for the positive in life

Sometimes this is extremely difficult to do.  I have noticed that as I look for tiny things in my life that go well in a day, I am able to see a little bit of light.  That light adds up over time and allows me to have a little more hope.

I have made the choice in my life to switch my career path due to my limitations that have come from dealing with depression, and continuing to try to maintain my health.  This has left a space in my heart that is not as filled as it was before, but making this decision allows me to see a whole different world.  It allows me to see how I can directly have an impact on people’s lives through helping them with finances.

I do not believe that I would have made this change had it not been for the added limitations in my life.  I feel comfort as I know that the Lord makes up the difference in my life.  As I do my best and rely on Him, He fills in the gap.  Christ is the one who makes me greater than I am.

Perhaps you have had a huge desire in your life to do something, follow a dream, or achieve a certain goal, but have been unable to do it.  Sometimes the Lord gives us certain challenges in our lives to be able to have more compassion for others or to be able to see out of different eyes.  Our Heavenly Father knows our hearts and deepest desires.  He recognizes our limitations.  He knows what is best for us.

As we learn to accept our Father in Heaven’s will for us, we become more Christ-like as He said, “Not my will, but Thine be done.”  Let us look for what we can do and realize that our Heavenly Father will help us accomplish what we are to do in our journey here on earth.  Limitations in life open new windows of opportunity that we can jump through if we are prepared.  Let us prepare ourselves for the opportunities the Lord waits to give us.