I have come to a conclusion. Most of the reasons we use to justify a lack of progress in our life or art are excuses.
They sound good and feel good but are fairly flimsy upon closer inspection.
This probably isn’t news to many of you. It wasn’t news to me, I knew this already but I am aware that I still excuse myself left, right and centre. So knowledge, it would seem, isn’t everything.
I realised recently that training student actors is actually mostly about stopping and overriding excuses. There is rarely a good reason why those lines weren’t learned, the play wasn’t read, the exercise didn’t work for them. Often its down to one of two things…fear or laziness.
Fear of not getting it right, not being good enough. And laziness creeps in when we forget that acting is muscular.
regular exercise is essential otherwise we just aren’t on target.
In a bid to tackle this problem, I spoke to my student’s about it and put a bin in the reception of our school with the word excuses stuck to it. Since that moment, a freedom has arrived in our classes. A freedom to own our laziness and fear.
Its remarkable how liberating the students have found it when they stop their excuses mid sentence and say ‘you know what, I just didn’t work hard enough ‘. You can feel a greater respect building for themselves and for me as we don’t try and bullshit each other.
The bin is there so when students arrive it is the first thing they see. A couple of them have walked out of class specifically to dump their excuse, written on paper, directly into the bin. This act of symbolism, this ritual is remarkably powerful. I have loved the growth I have witnessed as a result. What about you? What excuses are you carrying? I can guarantee that there is always room in our bin for them.