Playing the Fool
So far I have been talking in theoretical terms about having a certain attitude and approach to performance and this little sojourn in the proceedings is no different really, but it is to do with something which I have encountered a great deal in some performers, particularly relatively new ones, which I think is really important to consider.
It is to do with one of the things which can really prevent the performer to get out there and start practising their art - and it will seem like a really simple concept on the face of it!
Todays lesson: Don't think you will look a fool!
It's one of the most crucial inhibiting factors which stops us - the performers - from performing!
In many respects, it's not fear of foolishness that we are experiencing, but fear of not "providing the right and expected result". We are preconditioned (which Keith Johnstone explains really well in Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre ISBN 041346430X) to try and second guess what the outcome should be - and when we begin to drift into new territory we begin to panic - "I can't do this" - "I don't know what to do"...this then becomes a fear to perform; for to perform would be to fail.
We need to acknowledge, individually, that there are no right or wrong outcomes - just unique learning experiences. We'll all take something different away with us - it's the internal development that is important. We shouldn't think, "I did that wrong", and get down on ourselves - whatever you decide to do as a performance, it's really important to try and lose the sense that it is right - or wrong - and therefore you will look like an idiot - and before you know it, you'll have talked yourself out of having a go.
I overcome this feeling of foolishness by utimately performing for myself. This might compound your initial concept that performance is all about the audience. Well, the audience is just one part of the mix. For yourself, you should recognise that performance can be - and is - extremely pleasureable. For me, it is the time when my head feels firmly attached to my shoulders, and yet, I'm trying to be anyone else but myself. It's the transformation that takes place which is so fascinating, the opportunity to immerse yourself, however briefly, into another plane or new experience. Practitioners often talk of the performance space as being sacred space and it is. You can't do wrong in a sacred space, so don't for one moment worry about looking like a fool.
Get out there and claim your place at the altar!