Thoughts on Artistic Space for My Students

Some of you are finishing a show.

Some of you are starting a show.

Some of you are in between shows.

And I can sense an antsy-ness bubbling up (“I should be doing more, being more, showcasing more…”).

I love that hungry quality of wanting to grow, train, and experience.

HOWEVER. Beware the reason for the hunger. Gut check it. Make sure that it’s born out of love of the craft and not out of insecurity.

YOU ARE NOT ONLY AN ARTIST WHEN YOU ARE DOING A SHOW.

The reality is that this is an ebb and flow industry (sometimes there’s so much work you are gulping for air and sometimes you’re in a drought season). I get very concerned for people who lose their identity simply by being in between shows. These are the people who fall out of the industry. Or at least are very unhappy.

Here’s how I want you to think about how you develop your craft: it’s exactly the same way you build your muscles. When you’re working on a show, that’s like when you are in the gym lifting weights, stretching, expending a lot of energy. You are exercising your skills, putting them to the test, and it usually runs along with a fair amount of exhaustion because you are using your mind, body, and spirit. But you don’t build your muscles in the gym…

So where do you build your muscles?

While you rest.That’s when your body repairs itself and you actually grow in strength.

As an artist, embrace rest. 

You need space. Things you can do in the rest moments:

-reflect on your artistic work

-strengthen your academic work

-read plays and books

-see films and plays

-spend time in nature

-workout

-work on healthy disciplines

-spend time with friends and family

-work a job

-be a college kid!

-make goals for the next steps

As writer Antoine de St. Exupery says, “a dream without a goal is just a wish.”

Be strategic in your life – otherwise you run the risk of burnout. And I can tell you today with total certainty that you will never find your identity in shows. Your core identity is who you are, not what you do. It is your character. It is your spirit.  It is your faith. Be centered. And embrace space.

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