The COVID pandemic has forced us to find new ways to live, learn, and earn. Artists in general — and actors in particular — have been sidelined by this ongoing crisis. Theatre actors depend on live audiences for their livelihoods and the feedback they need to do what they do best. Actors working in film and television also have been faced with halted production and postponed releases. Despite these setbacks and changes to the industry, actors cannot afford to lose their edge. Here are seven activities to keep your acting skills sharp until things fully return to normal.
1. Designate a Creative Space
While you may not be able to perform at your local theatre or on set just yet, in the interim, you should try to create a personal space dedicated to creativity and your craft. Set aside a room in your house or a corner of your apartment where you can practice your technique, rehearse material, or simply focus on your career.
Keep in mind that this space does not have to be physical. If you’re quarantined in close quarters, seek out creative material. Whether it’s notes from your last acting class, playbills from old shows, unread scripts or well-thumbed screenplays, surround yourself with inspiration.
2. Write It Down
There’s never been a better time than now to dive into that long dreamed of (or well procrastinated) writing project. Take this period at home to work on that screenplay you once started or to write yourself a monologue to film for your reel. Even if you simply start a journal of your daily life, hopes, or challenges, now is a great time to put your thoughts down on paper. You never know when inspiration will strike or where an idea might eventually lead.
3. Maintain Your Instrument
Just as a professional musician must keep their instrument oiled, tuned and polished, an actor must keep their instrument in peak condition too. This means eating well, staying hydrated, and getting adequate, regular sleep. Research shows that most adults require 7-9 hours of sleep a day to function at their best. By staying healthy and active, you can keep your instrument, voice, and stamina in top condition – and ready to jump into your next project at a moment’s notice.
4. Stay Connected to Your Craft
These days, everyone is all-too-familiar with staying connected through endless Zoom calls or conferencing apps. Still, there’s more to keeping in touch with your craft than attending online acting classes. Take this time not only to create art but to consume it. Read books about great artists, directors, and playwrights. Watch films renowned for their performances. Now, with so many live performances available on streaming platforms, you can even see Broadway and West End productions from the comfort of your own home.
5. Branch Out
Consider trying out new ways to explore your creativity. Actors use their bodies and voices to evoke and recreate the many rich layers of life. While acting may be your calling, there are countless other art forms that are equally expressive. Try your hand at dance, visual arts, or even playing an instrument while in quarantine. Not only will you keep your imagination and creativity active, you just might discover a new hobby, passion, or special skill for your resume.
6. Free Your Mind
With so many people’s lives and livelihoods at risk, a global pandemic is an undoubtedly stressful time. Be sure to take care of yourself and your mental health during this time. Yoga and meditation are two disciplines that can help you feel calmer, more centered, and more capable of weathering the present storm.
While meditation is a strictly mental practice, yoga combines aspects of meditation with physical poses and movement to achieve balance, strength, and flexibility. In addition to relieving stress and anxiety, LSTFI alumna Lindsey Waguespack describes yoga as “the perfect compliment to acting.”
7. Expand Your Horizons
There is much to be said for focusing on your career and using your time in quarantine to hone your technique and prepare for the industry. But, remember that the best actors tend to be well-rounded people who have a wide range of interests and experiences. Consider studying a subject outside the realm of acting, perhaps something that you have always been interested in but never had the time to explore.
Whether you take up astronomy, read about great architecture, or attempt to understand the General Theory of Relativity, anything that expands your horizons can help inform your work as an actor and allow you to bring nuances, details and layers to any given character.