I’m used to being in front of people, in front of an audience as a speaker or as a presenter or a workshop/training facilitator, I don’t get very nervous because I know my stuff and I guess, I’m in my sweet spot.
Recently, however I decided to join the local theatre company, after my daughter was in a play. I auditioned for a play made up of five male characters and I got quite a good part.
I noticed that the decision to join the theatre company and audition did in fact stretch me, I was surprised how nervous I was before the audition, whilst learning my lines and even while the play was being performed. At every point, I was so conscious of not wanting to make a mistake with my lines or timing.
Learning your lines is a tough gig! It’s not all about just learning your lines, it’s about being present and knowing when to speak. I noticed whilst rehearsing at home and with the other actors that you can’t be thinking about your lines or timing because then you’re not acting anymore. Needless to say, the experience of committing 100% to the theatre company and preparing for the play has really challenged me.
Practicing those lines at home provided some very funny moments, one time in particular was really funny, my daughter Severine was practicing with me and at one point was so amused at my lack of ability to remember my lines she pulled me up and said, you know Dad, I had four times the amount of lines in my play than you have in yours and you are a speaker for goodness sake, you should have this flat by now and we both burst out laughing.
When I first started practicing my lines, I practiced them over and over again and then repeated the process. Then I realised that was not working as well as I wanted. I focussed on what the intention of the lines are first, which is what I do when training trainers, don’t try to remember it, but understand the message you are trying to deliver.
Eventually after much repetition and practice I got the essence of my character, and everything flowed from there. Personally, I’ve received some great feedback. We did four shows and each of us got better as the shows progressed proving my point of the value of repetition and practice.
This weekend we entered into a competition called One Fest which is a Hobarts annual one act play festival that has 16 plays competing. This is a big thing with it being a large theatre and audience. I am very pleased to say our play won the Best Ensemble award, see photos below. We were really pleased as we put a lot of effort into how we related to each other in our play.
This experience has provided me with an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone, not staying still and taking new things on. For me it’s about that feeling of nerves again, doing something that is challenging, and it’s been really nice doing things with a group of men who I have developed a great bond with.
As previously mentioned in my last article From Trash to Treasure it’s about making the commitment and taking the actions aligned with what you want to achieve.
I’m very busy with my business and have to do a lot of travel, I have made sure I am home in time for rehearsals and do the practice. I turned up to every rehearsal. I was committed, in fact I noticed myself getting frustrated when some people didn’t turn up. It has a huge impact when someone just doesn’t show, someone else has got to read their lines etc. etc. When I commit, I commit, and I have an expectation that others will as well.
The difference between being in front of a room presenting, whether it be at a conference or a workshop session or presenting research results is that you are generally leading and prompting the conversation, you have background stories and real examples to share and you know how and where you want the conversation to go. Whereas being on stage and playing a particular character the story is not your story, it’s someone else’s script and you’ve got to interpret that.
I’m very aware of the room when I’m training and presenting and where people are at in the conversation, however when on stage you know the audience is there, but you don’t really pay attention to the audience, your job is to do your best to deliver the intention of the writer, hoping the audience will also love it.
How do you relate to your audience? How do you engage them?
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