But why do we do this job?
I wonder what this artsy bubble we actors live in looks like from space? A moody hurricane of hope, creation and fake smiles? A tempestuous thunderstorm of rejection, elation and swooshing scarves? Or a light shower of playfulness, poverty and pissed people?
If an Alien species were to crash land right in the middle of our artistic fairground I wonder what they’d make, not only of the scores of humans who dress up, put on peculiar voices and lollop around in front of other humans, but also of the thousands of us sat twitching on the side lines, waiting for a turn?
They might think we’re all nuts – a fair assumption. They might go back to their home planet, have a space cocktail and laugh about us ‘human actor-y types relentlessly racing each other for the opportunity to say words and take bows’ (think I just quoted an inebriated hypothetical alien)... Or they might ask us why we do it… Hmm…
Can you define and describe? Can you be that self-analytical? Can you thoroughly articulate something that many of us feel ‘chose us’?
In short – yes, yes you can and surely every actor bloody should? We’re not nuts for wanting to enrich human experience through storytelling; we’re not crackers for attempting to unravel and explore the human psyche and we’re not loopy for identifying a voice within ourselves and needing the world to hear it – we are nuts, crackers and loopy if, amidst all of the artistic questioning, we never bother to question why we question.
Why we, not as a collective but as individuals, chase and train and sacrifice and risk and endure – why we put up with it, why we care, why doing what we do is incomparable to any other activity or experience. Whatever feeds an actor ends up driving them and whatever drives them contaminates every decision and choice and therefore every twist and turn of their career. Surely it is only when we truly try to understand ourselves that we can hope to strive and choose and achieve with any degree of honesty and clarity?
The alien would need at least twelve cocktails during my explanation of why I do this job – how many could they get through during yours?
Natalie Burt – Actor and Tutor at the Actors Centre
Her book Cut the Crap, Cue the Truth is on sale now: http://oberonbooks.com/acting