An Actor's Guide to Spicing Things Up
Katie Redford is here to help reinvigorate your first love... your career! Just in time for Valentine's Day.
I think things have got slightly complicated with this whole mindfulness/visualisation business. If I went by every article on this subject, I’d have no time in my day for anything else... I’m exhausted just thinking about it all. Keep it simple and just do it when you have a spare moment. Lock yourself off in the privacy of your own mind and let your mind simply wander, whether that’s on the train, on the treadmill or standing in the queue at ASDA.
Yes, my friends. It’s that time of the year again where Greggs crack out the love heart cookies, Barry White’s velvety voice gets played on repeat and hashtags such as #singleandfabulous fill up our Instagram feeds.
But Valentine’s day shouldn’t be the only day in the year where we attempt to ‘revamp’ things. We should be getting into the habit of making the effort all year round. And I’m not just referring to the personal relationships we have, but the relationship we have with our careers too. We’re only 2 months into 2018 but if the resolutions have gone out of the window and things are already feeling a bit stale, here’s a little guide on how to spice things up.
The more vividly, the better. What would be the project that you would love to do? Maybe it’s a specific play. Which theatre would you perform at? Who would direct you? Who would you be starring opposite? Go big with this. No-one has to to know what you’re fantasising about. The old lady that keeps staring at you on the tube because your mouth’s dropped open, doesn’t have to know that you’re imagining yourself on stage at The Globe with the audience hanging on to your every word. The hairdresser cutting your hair doesn’t need to know you’re picturing your dressing room at Pinewood studios with lightbulbs around the mirrors. Your flatmate doesn’t need to know that halfway through your porridge, you’re busy picturing yourself shooting your own short film in a desolate field with an entire crew, who are all there because they believe in your project.
It’s so easy to stop imagining these sorts of things, especially when times are tough. We can get lost in the mundane routine of simply trying to make ends meet and forget why we’re even doing this in the first place. Reconnect with your passion and start fantasising. So what if it’s not realistic at this stage? Only you know what’s going on up there.
I think things have got slightly complicated with this whole mindfulness/visualisation business. If I went by every article on this subject, I’d have no time in my day for anything else. There are just so many things we ‘should’ be doing to have a healthy mind and making sure we’re on target with our goals. For instance, beginning the day with meditation, filling in a productivity sheet, then going for a run, then doing yoga, shortly followed by a positive visualisation exercise - I’m exhausted just thinking about it all. Keep it simple and just do it when you have a spare moment. Lock yourself off in the privacy of your own mind and let your mind simply wander, whether that’s on the train, on the treadmill or standing in the queue at ASDA.
Our thoughts are incredibly powerful and most of the time, whatever is happening in our lives is usually a result of our thoughts, so we may as well go all out with this. Daydreaming was always something I used to get told off for doing at school; it was an activity that was deemed pointless but on reflection, I’m going to have to disagree with you Mrs Pearson in Class 3. I couldn’t recommend it enough. Plus it’s free, which is a bonus, as I’m skint. Again.
Get out of your comfort zone
Hollywood haven’t called just yet but I’ve booked in some US accent coaching for next month. I was meant to do this last year but put it off, as I didn’t have any work that required it. Which, in hindsight, is ridiculous. I don’t enjoy practicing the accent, so what better reason to push myself to work on it?
If your agent called you right now and said you had an audition tomorrow, would you be feeling at the top of your game, mentally and physically? Would you be confident enough within yourself to hold your own in that room? What are you doing to boost your career? Is it working? What other things could you be doing yourself? Use your time productively and do something that you’ve not done before, to leave you feeling prepared when the phone does ring.
For instance, perhaps find a character in a scene that inspires you or that you’re drawn to that you would never usually be seen for; learn it, prep it and film yourself doing it. Set yourself an audition date and film it in your room. Push yourself with the piece you use - only you’re going to see it anyway. Things like this can push us out of our comfort zone without even realising. They don’t have to be lavish tasks such as a sky dive or signing up for an accent course (I’d still encourage both of those things), but think about the things you could to help yourself as a performer that you’ve not tried yet. Be it regional accent classes, improvisation workshops, open mic nights; push yourself to think outside the box and get into the habit of not always playing things safe. And don’t make the excuse about not having time. Make the time. You’ll thank yourself when the phone does ring.
Mix things up
When I was at Uni, the guy I was a tad smitten with left and moved away. I remember feeling so upset that I went back to my halls and cried into my pot noodle. (Lad.) Everything reminded me of him; my tiny little room, the bus ride in to Uni, even the sound of my alarm clock. And one morning, after I had no more pot noodles to cry into (cue the violins) I simply decided to change things around. I moved my bed, my desk, I re-arranged the books on my shelves, I took a different route into Uni, I even changed my alarm tone. And within days, I was fine. Because the association of him and of feeling sad had disappeared.
Sometimes, if we’re feeling troubled, we can end up feeling like it for longer than we need to, due to the habits we’ve created whilst we’re feeling like that. Have you ever received some bad news in a certain place and then gone back to the place months later? That particular feeling will most likely surface again because of the association we have with the surroundings.
So, if things have been a little tough lately, don’t just accept feeling beaten down by it and carry on as you were, getting up at the same time, having the same thing for breakfast, looking at the same four walls. Change what you can. Even if it is things like moving your room around, putting a new picture up, walking a different way into work or even changing your ringtone. I know these things sound pathetically minor but trust me, it all contributes.
On a side note, if that particular boy happens to be reading this, I haven’t cried into a pot noodle since. Just so you know.
And on that note: Happy Valentine’s everyone.
Katie is an actress & writer originally from Nottingham. She's a member of BBC Comedy Writersroom and is a part of the BBC Talent Hot List. She currently plays Lily Pargetter on Radio 4's The Archers and Beth in BBC1's Still Open All Hours. When she's not in work, you can find her in the soft play centre in Epsom where she takes the children she sometimes nannies for, so she doesn't have to do any actual work.