How Actors Motivate and Unite Us – The Actor’s Role in Life as The Idealist.

“Something is stirring, shifting ground
It’s just begun
Edges are blurring, all around
And yesterday is done”

Our Time
MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG
Stephen Sondheim

Dr. Nicola Davies, a Senior Medical Writer with a PhD in Health Psychology, and BSc in Psychology wrote in 2012 that an “identifying trait” of an Idealist is:  “Their outlook on the future is always optimistic; the world can and will become a better place…”

Sixty-six years prior to Dr. Davies’s learned musings a songwriter—unable to write or read musical notation and possessing only two years of formal education—penned a tune for a community he knew well:

“There’s no people like show people, they smile when they are low…

You get word before the show has started that your favorite uncle died at dawn

Top of that, your pa and ma have parted, you’re broken-hearted, but you go on…”

Written for the musical Annie Get Your Gun, “There’s No Business Like Show Business” was composed by Russian-born immigrant, (Israel Baline) Irving Berlin. His “pa” died when Berlin was eight years old. As Berlin wrote, “but you go on,” Berlin he did despite many challenges to become an American master composer. His songs which include, “Blue Skies,” “Happy Holidays,” “White Christmas,” and “God Bless America” ring with an idealist’s optimism.

“There’s No Business Like Show Business” has become an unofficial anthem for an expansive ensemble of Idealists: show people. People committed to living their profession’s purpose to elevate and enrich the human spirit and condition. Placing “we” before “me.” We turn to show people for rejuvenation when our idealism is depleted.

Dr. Davies suggests we are drawn to Idealists, “because they will go out of their way to help people, and not just their friends.”

People of “show” play a role in protecting the “we” from deleterious mental health according to research.

Edgar Jones, professor of the history of medicine at King’s College released research on the effect of entertainment (show people) has on UK’s armed forces morale and psychological health during conflict. As reported by the BBC: “Professor Jones says studies show that as morale falls, psychological disorders rise…. ‘Morale is so important. It drives what you do and the way you do it. When morale falls off you lose determination, and that’s contagious,’ he said.”

During the COVID pandemic the morale of the world “fell off.” We turned to show people via our phones, computers, and TVs. Show people smiling despite their own morale being near mortally wounded. The business of show was (and nearly continues to be) decimated. To a point of there being no business to employ show people. Hollywood came to a standstill. Broadway, since March 2020, remains dark until at least the end of May 2021. Live, in-person, audience-attended, entertainment (theater, dance, music, comedy) is mostly in stasis. But within the ensemble of show people idealism/optimism persevered. Show people found new ways via video platforms to enrich and elevate our human spirit and condition. Creating solutions to challenges is necessary for the idealistic show person’s reality. Show people live a profession that encounters, almost daily, debilitating challenges professionally and personally. Yet many show people push forward with idealism.

Without show people’s idealism, its game over for them, and for the “we.”

Related: Being an Actor Means Maintaining Idealism

From the New & Expanded Edition of,

ACTING: Make It Your Business
– How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor

Chapter 2
Being An Actor – A Tough Love (excerpt, pg. 80)

Do you recall that initial flush of joy following the first audition you aced or during the applause of your first bow taken alone? When your first thoughts of being a professional actor had no obstacles? Possibilities seemed endless? That is idealism. Holding onto your early wonderment is the greatest perpetual challenge an actor faces. Lose your idealism and you lose yourself. Game over.

Idealism is both a burden and an asset on our journeys as artists. We must lug the load of enthusiasm upon our backs when the trail rises. And we ride idealism’s joys on leveling plains and gently rolling downgrades. Dismissive civilians, unsupportive family or friends, and criticizing peers often weigh down our idealism by loading on us doubt-provoking comments such as “What’ve I seen you in lately?” “How come you don’t have an agent?” “Why don’t you have a better agent?” “Why aren’t you famous?” and “When will you grow up and get a real life?”

But the dangerous comments that lessen an actor’s idealism come not from others but can come forth from within the actor. Thoughts like “What is my career?” “Where am I going?” “How much longer until I reach . . . wait . . . what am I reaching for?” “Do I know? I think so. But my sight is sometimes blurred by a blizzard of doubt.”

Doubt kills idealism. An actor must slaughter the assailing dissent before it murders your dreams. Kill the doubt. To keep your idealism alive—that joy you had when first beginning your career—you must cease thoughts, words, and actions that plot to diminish your wonder.

For any actor to succeed, he or she must recall during times of doubt why they first began acting as a journey. What was the lighted joy that sparked the imagination illuminating you forward? Idealism’s flame will flicker during gusts of despair. Protect the flame from crosswinds that threaten to extinguish the glow. No one else but you can keep lit the lantern that is your idealism.

ABOUT PAUL RUSSELL – PAUL RUSSELL CASTING

Paul Russell has been in the entertainment industry for over forty years as an award-winning casting director, director and the author of NEW & EXPANDED edition of ACTING: Make It Your Business. He’s cast for 20th Century Fox, HBO, Broadway, and regional theater. Featured in American Theatre Magazine, Paul has directed premiers, and at the Tony-award recognized Barter Theatre. He teaches master classes at university BFA and MFA actor training programs, and privately online with actors globally. Paul began his career in entertainment as a successful working actor.

Visit the NEW & EXPANDED edition of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor!
http://www.ActingMakeItYourBusiness.com

Visit Paul & Paul Russell Casting @ PaulRussell.net.

http://www.ActingMakeItYourBusiness.com

A New World for Actors Post-COVID

We’re creative as f**k. We will figure out our new normal. We did post-9/11, and we will in a post-COVID world.

Answers For Actors guest columnist, Douglas Taurel: actor-playwright-producer.

Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look.

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

Our artistic world today is, without a doubt, scary and a little depressing. It’s so hard to see the future optimistically as an actor. All the cornerstones that we have known as actors are disappearing. Businesses that were the center of our acting lives have closed. Rehearsal and casting studios across the U.S. are vanishing, and I don’t think they will ever come back. Bastions of the acting world, that I thought could never be touched, are beginning to crack. Broadway won’t even think about coming back until 2021, and when it does it won’t be at full capacity. Theater margins were already incredibly tight in a rational world but to be forced to 25 percent—or even 50 percent audience capacity?—fuhget about it. The shutdown will have a severe ripple effect on every aspect of the entertainment community worldwide. The entire acting eco-system that stretches from Los Angeles to New York to London and beyond and everywhere in between is dying. It’s like we’re a strapped-in audience of a horrific Broadway musical wrought with bad acting, atrocious singing, horrible costumes… and there’s still twenty-five acts to go. Make it stop!

I moved to New York City from Texas in January of 2000. I remember 9/11. As a young, green actor walking out of the Twin Towers when the second plane hit, I thought, ‘Hmmm, perhaps this was not the right move.’ Post-9/11 was just as scary. The entertainment industry took a massive economic blow across the U.S. Everything that we knew as actors was profoundly changing. And making acting careers more difficult was a writers’ strike compounding the economic woes for us as actors. Can you say, “Non-Union?”

But post-9/11 we found a way to get through challenges. Life and artistry is never easy. The ‘hard’ is what makes both so beautiful and amazing, plus why we live and create. Our happiness as actors will come from what we focus our energy on, and what we create. I began to write, and I found opportunities for myself. There will be plenty of opportunities for us all. We’re artists, We’re creative as fuck. We will figure out our new normal. We did post-9/11, and we will in a post-COVID world.

We are experiencing a seismic shift in our artistic world. But seismic shifts have always happened. Silent pictures became talkies. Radio dramas and variety shows found new life on live television. Black and white became color on TV and movie screens. Air-broadcast TV dominated by three major networks became a gluttony of programming with cable TV. Cable went to digital to streaming, and on and on. Think about all the artists who were left behind because they chose not to adapt to the technology of the day.

We’ve gone full circle to how acting used to be at the very beginning. We are going to have to become producer/writers like Shakespeare. In Shakespeare’s day actors had to create, write, and produce their work, and then had to find an audience. Today, creating for and, reaching people is easier than it ever was. We will have to learn how to change, and that change will be through technology and creating new content.

However, the new world will ask that you tackle the beast that is technology. Technology will be the key to opening the doors to your future. You don’t have to master it. But you cannot run from it anymore. Not in a post-COVID world. Gone are the days when as actors can say, “I’m not good with technology” –those days are gone! Tackle a little bit of technology every day. That knowledge will build up over the week, months, and years.

Look for success in the things you can control, and the one thing we can all control is creating content. Self-creating content was the answer post-9/11, and it will be the answer for us in the afterlife of COVID. As actors, writers, casting directors, and artists, we can all have a podcast, have a YouTube channel, write, and all shoot a film or create a series with our iPhones. Our ability to create content today is endless, and it will open many doors for us in our new world.

I created and recently uploaded a film on Vimeo On Demand, and onto Amazon. I have a podcast. A blog. A YouTubechannel. I share my artistic thoughts. I own platforms, and distribution channels that I could have never dreamed of ten or fifteen years ago. I create characters, record monologues, and share them with producers, directors, and casting directors. When I was studying with Wynn Handman twenty years ago at Carnegie Hall, if I wanted to be in a movie or get that new credit on IMDB, I had to be cast by a gate-keeping casting director in something. Not today. I control the gate.

The most genuine truism of all is, work will always beget work. It was true in Shakespeare’s days, the Golden Era of Television, post-9/11, and will be true post-COVID.  Focus on what you can do, what you can control, and what you can create. ‘What’ is up to you, not someone else. That is all that matters. It’s all that ever mattered. It’s what our identity should be and where our happiness lies.

We all can do this. You can do this!

(P.S. – If you need help or have any questions: Please feel free to reach out to me at www.DouglasTaurel.com or via my social media platforms listed below.)

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About Douglas Taurel:

Taurel has been nominated for the United Kingdom Amnesty International Award for his play The American Soldier.  Taurel was twice invited to perform The American Soldier at the Kennedy Center. The Library of Congress commissioned Taurel to write and perform his follow-up play An American’s Soldier Journey Home. He’s appeared in numerous TV shows and films including his recently released TV series Landing Home which he wrote and directed. 

Douglas Taurel online:

www.DouglasTaurel.com
www.TheAmericanSoldierSoloshow.com
www.LandingHomeWebSeries.com 

Social Media:

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About Paul Russell – Paul Russell Casting

Paul Russell has been in the entertainment industry for over forty years as an award-winning casting director, director and the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business. He’s cast for 20th Century Fox, HBO, Broadway, and regional theater. Featured in American Theatre Magazine, Paul has directed premiers, and at the Tony-award recognized Barter Theatre. He teaches master classes at university BFA and MFA actor training programs, and privately online with actors globally. Paul began his career in entertainment as a successful working actor. Visit Paul & Paul Russell Casting @ PaulRussell.net.