Friday, March 14, 2008

Working hard vs. Busting your ass

Is there a difference? Yes there is.

I'm currently involved in a project called, "The Monologue Project". It's a collaboration between Pollyanna Theatre Company and Ballet Austin which touches upon the bullying issues that teens and preteens face in school.

The beginning of our dress rehearsal today got off to such a rocky start that the director and choreographer stopped us (after the first 10 minutes), told us to WAKE UP and start from the top.

I wasn't surprised by their comments, because personally I wasn't present. I walked in with the intention of kicking ass and having a great rehearsal, but I let something I took personally get to me and I lost my focus. I'm pretty sure that for other reasons other cast members felt disconnected as well. Maybe some were tired, maybe some didn't want to be there. Who knows? I could feel that energy, and along with mine, the whole room reeked from it.

Anyways, the second go around was MUCH BETTER. We all managed to put the crap aside and get present.

After we were all back in our street clothes and ready for notes, Thadius (the choreographer) gave a speech. He likes to give speeches and I gotta say, they're pretty damn inspiring. Thadius told us that we need to bring our "A Game" every day. And that our A Game for today should not be the same as it was yesterday. It should be set at a higher level. That means come in every day and bust our asses.

He spoke in terms of a dancer's life, and said often times in dance if you do something less than stellar, your feedback is nicely said, "You need to work a bit harder". He decided to give it to us "raw" because he said we needed to hear it.

So what's the difference? For me, the difference is as follows:

Patricia "Works Hard" Scenario:

I had rehearsal today at 2, so I read through my lines for a 30 minutes early in the morning. Then I went to rehearsal and worked hard. I put all my energy and heart into the performance and was exhausted afterwards. Worked out for 1 hour; did morning pages cause I kinda felt like it...

Patricia "Busts her Ass" Scenario:

I woke up at 5 am, wrote my morning pages, worked out for an hour, after work went to rehearsal for two hours, came home, worked out for 45 minutes, worked on monologues for 1.5 hours, looked for acting jobs and submitted myself for about 30 minutes, worked on lines for upcoming show 2 hours.

Do you see the difference? It's not just about doing what you HAVE to's about doing what you have to do AND doing what you need to do (and what you should want to do) in order to keep your instrument polished and help you continue to get further in this business. You have to be willing to stick with it even when you feel like just quitting and sitting in front of the TV, or sleeping an extra 30 minutes.

It's like my girl, Michelle wrote in an earlier blog (An Actor's Life) "...if you don’t want to work on it every single day...if you are not 100 percent sure that you can deal with the...struggle and hard work then you need to find a new dream. It’s not all glitz and glamour all the time."

Thadius finished by telling us actors and dancers that if we're only willing to work hard rather than bust our asses every day, we need to remember that there's always someone else out there that's busting their ass and ready to take your spot.

Patricia A. Robinson

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