Well it’s that time of year; the holidays are coming. It’s a special time from Thanksgiving through New Years. A lot going on, both physically and for many, emotionally as well.
I wrote about this topic a few years ago and feel it important to share it again at this time. I usually give this lecture in my classes, so again I’ll share a very short piece of it here.
During the holidays a lot of feelings come up for people, strong emotional feelings, both good and painful. As we all know, a good acting class should challenge you, open you up, and get you in touch with your emotional life. It’s the process of unravelling yourself to be raw, present, vulnerable, and exposed. That’s what the acting instrument is - a present, vulnerable, affected being, and raw with truth. Our work is to get in touch with our emotions and master them, so we can use them when appropriate, not be victims of them.
The holiday season seems to be the time of year when depression is at its highest, drug prescriptions increase, liquor sales are their peak, loneliness is high, and when people gain the most weight. Why?
One reason may be is that it can be a time when personal issues come up. It can be a time when “family of origin issues” hit. Many people need to comfort themselves, and in effect, anaesthetize themselves to not feel the pain of whatever their family issues and past might be.
Over the years I’ve noticed that the holidays are a time when many actors take a break from class. I’ll hear, “I’ll be off through the holidays, see you in Jan –need some time to think about things”, “I’m short on money during this season”, or “I just need a break, and think this is a good time”. I understand completely, it is a hectic time of year, and we all have and need a life.
That being said, for those who choose to remain in their classes, here’s something I’ve observed over the last 30 years teaching. For an actor it can be a powerful opportunity to delve in, connect with their uncomfortable feelings, discover them, dance with them, and have huge breakthroughs.
Speaking with many of my teaching colleagues, we notice that acting classes during Nov and Dec are the smallest, yet consistently it is the time of the biggest breakthroughs and growth. I think actors get more in touch with themselves and their vulnerability, their anger, their pain, and more of what is ever underneath, driving them unconsciously.
My thoughts for those in class – work harder and take bigger risks. Share when appropriate. For those on break - I suggest you get a journal and write in it every day. Write your feelings, what is going on, what you’re grateful about, and what is ailing you. Have a catharsis on paper. For others, maybe a clean break is what is needed. But whatever you do, do it for the right reason for you, be in touch with it and own it. And take care of yourself.
Each year at The Actors Workout we put up a Holiday Show. We use this time of year to show gratitude, give service, and celebrate. We produce a show each year and donate our profits to Toys For Tots, helping underprivileged children have a better holiday.
Whatever is your situation, enjoy this time as I wish you the best during the upcoming holiday season. Also, I encourage you to do something of service; it’s a great time to give. Happy Thanksgiving to you.