Drawing by Elliana Esquivel
As the saying goes, ‘when there is a will, there is a way’. And the same goes for acting where the actor’s will is central to delivering a good performance. This will is quite simply the attitude behind a performance. It encompasses the readiness to fail, to try again, to trudge through the rehearsal process in face of all its madness and difficulties, to take criticism and rejection in stride, and to commit to an action or an emotion. But the harsh truth is this: the process of finding – and owning – oneself and one’s character on stage can be daunting and exhausting, causing many actors to give up in rehearsals as they end up going through the motions, resulting in a spiritless and lackluster performance.
What these actors fail to realise is that they are often surrendering at the brink of their breakthrough. If only they would just push a little more, if only they would just hold that thought, if only they would just try that action or respond to that impulse, if only they dug a little deeper into the motivations of their characters…it might just all fall into place. Remember that frustration is a creative state and that growth cannot exist without pain. Embrace the creative gap and have the fighting spirit to press on. The most significant advances usually come about in sudden and unexpected ways.
When a show opens, actors are required to perform night after night with unwavering tenacity, focus and truth. It is no wonder that Stanislavski has said that the ‘will’ is the most important skill an actor must have. The rigour of performance makes it imperative for the actor to develop a strong will for concentration, constant risk-taking, as well as great stamina so that he does not give up before the run ends. And while thinking, rehearsing and preparing till the wretched end can be trying (an understatement surely), it will all be worth it when you finally experience that moment of utter triumph during your creative breakthrough.