I Think I Mentioned It At Some Point
From the first time having a profession became a conceivable concept to me at the age of 17, being an actor was all I wanted.
I don’t think I can explain why; it was fun, I didn’t like other things and I was never pushed to excel in maths, science or technology. Which makes it entirely odd that these technical aspects of digital marketing are what I now find most fascinating.
I took drama and performing arts at A Level and there was nothing that compared to the thrill of performing and indulging in that most unique of professional relationships, that between one actor and another.
I dabbled and enjoyed…
…and then I forgot all about it.
What’s My Motivation?
I’ve known some people in the last couple of years take short-term acting courses and thought how amazing it would be to get back into it, just for fun. As the years went on and my role became more dependent on presenting, and Brighton Digital Women came along, I really wanted to find a way to gain more poise, pace and confidence in presenting and teaching.
I think I must have mentioned the ACT two-week workshop course to mates, and so found myself this January holding my ticket to the course.
Stepping Out and Up
I made a vow to myself to start the course giving it everything, taking the opportunity to get really stuck in and learn.
The workshop is designed to throw you right in, but is wonderful at creating a sense of ‘we’re all in this together’. I don’t know if this happens to every group who takes the course, but we all became very at ease with each other very quickly. Some may say too at ease – we did get a little warning about respecting each other’s bodies!
Trust was the core of what we were doing; knowing we’re all just learning and understanding that we can’t get anything wrong.
On our second day the group I was in kind of made a devised activity more complicated than it should have been, but out of that came some great discussion and learning. Hey, I’m always happy to be an example!
It’s amazing how quickly you learn to trust people when they have to trust you back. We were always throwing offers at each other in improvisation sessions. Learning to accept them and add to them meant we could trust that our weird little scenes about killing one of your children and trying to hide the body or extreme waxing would work to an often hilarious and unexpected conclusion. It was such a rush, I went home high every evening.
These People Are Fucking Awesome
It became apparent to each of us quite early on that we were all completely awesome. I couldn’t say there was anyone in the group I didn’t like working with, or looked forward to working with most. Were we a rare gem of a group so closely bound by awesomeness that our admiration and enjoyment of each other rivaled any acting troupe or theatre company known to man?!
What made this all extra astounding is that we were all SO different. Stages of life, professions, interests, cultures and what have you. I began to think, ‘is this just what other people are like?!’
We’re always so siloed away into our groups of friends or colleagues we see daily that interacting on a vulnerable and meaningful level with those outside of these everyday groups can exponentially build your confidence, understanding and wonder at this thing we call life.
I’ll go a step even further and say, watching these people go through things, grow and learn with you is something so deeply satisfying and pure that it encourages you and emboldens you to keep going, keep learning and keep trying to expand your world.
From an acting point of view, and in my professional life, I learned how important it is to always know your objective. What is it you want out of a given situation? Pursue it: don’t be derailed by anything else that tries to block you.
This technique can be used for presentations, conversations with your management, discussions with service providers… anywhere in life you need to remain steadfast, make a point or get a result. This was crazy helpful for me to learn and practice.
Breathing and Pacing
We had some voice sessions, which were fantastic practical activities that helped with my poise and delivery. It also miraculously healed a bitch of a cold I had at the start of workshop week 2. They really undercharge for this service!
Breathing warm-ups and workouts exist and if you need to talk in front of groups then giving your voice, breath and facial cavities a workout every week is a must. You won’t believe how open and comfortable they make you feel, and you’ll stun your audience with how professional you sound.
A Personal Valentine’s
I left every session feeling lifted, bolder and enthused for acting. I had forgotten I ever got so much joy from something. It was like bumping into a long-lost love you thought you’d never see again and rekindling something wonderful.
It was in fact Valentine’s Day when I got this feeling back. Despite learning a very odd German housewife dance, I left reminded of what I loved about acting – the camaraderie that exists on a different level. I was also reminded, after our end of workshop party (where some SERIOUS shapes were thrown by all) of how much I love movement and dance. My next challenge is street dance… watch this space for a BDW dance off!
That’s Act One
I learned a lot on this course and I learned a lot from the people I took it with. I was challenged, out of my comfort zone for about 90% of the time and I am currently having the biggest come-down of my life now that it’s over.
I’d like to thank God…um I mean…everyone on the course and the tutors for what was an unforgettable, intensive two weeks. I’m not sure I can put into words how thankful I am for it and how much I’m looking forward to using what I’ve learned, seeing the group again and continuing on with acting somehow, even if it is one-woman shows to my friends in the pub!
What I’d like to impart to people reading this is that, whatever you do day-to-day, go and find something utterly unrelated to what that is and do that on the side. Learn something far removed from what you need to know for your job.
Yes, I built confidence, learned pace and poise for presentations, but there was a whole lot more I learned I had not bargained for and in some ways is more valuable.
Acting is a wonderful way of opening yourself up, watch others do the same and seeing what comes out and how you work through it together.
I couldn’t recommend ACT Brighton enough.
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