Theatre Information

Actors’ Challenges

By • Feb 4th, 2009 • Category: An Actor's Advice

Hard as it may be to believe, Sunday’s Super Bowl is an apt metaphor for the actor.

Without making this a column on football statistics, (a subject about which I know very little) let us suffice to say that all year the Cardinals were underdogs. Let us also ignore the fact that they in the end lost the big game. (Though they very nearly won.)

The regular season win/loss record for Arizona was one of the worst for a Super Bowl team ever. Not to mention the fact that their quarterback, Kurt Warner, has been pushed into near retirement more than once before this year, due to his age. Underdogs for certain, and yet there they were on Sunday giving the much talked about Pittsburgh Steelers a run for their money.

Without being a football strategist, I still think I possess enough common sense to say that everyone in the Arizona locker room already knew what they were up against. They were facing an extremely good Pittsburgh Steelers; a team that everybody everywhere had predicted to win handily.

This meant that Arizona had to be at 100% or more, for the entire game. And up until the last final minutes, they were. The result was a far better than expected showing.

Such is the determination when one faces a heavily favored opponent.

There are no opponents as such on stage. Yet an actor must seek out the equivalent of opponents, if he ever wishes to summon within himself those hidden reserves of talent and art that they previously were unaware that they possessed.

An actor must seek out challenges.

A role that seems outside of one’s “range.” A play one does not adore. A character that hits too close to home. Even one requiring a skill that has to be acquired cold at the start of the rehearsal process, and perfected by opening night.

Like Arizona’s ill fated Super Bowl game, perfection may not always be the outcome of such a challenge for the actor. However unlike Arizona, an actor gets to come back. Again, and again, to face not only old challenges, and but to accept newer obstacles.

Know your limit, of course. Do not paint yourself into such a difficult corner that you are unable to function. Always keep you comfort zone in your sight. But step out of it, and do the things that you find most difficult, (but not impossible) on stage. Unlike in football, coming close to completing a challenge has merit in its own right. Every obstacle merely attempted is an evolution for the actor.

And every obstacle actually overcome is a trophy you don’t have to defend next year. It’s yours forever.

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is a Maryland native and has been acting for nine years, having studied it at Marietta College in Ohio. He has been schooled in Shakespeare, improvisation, public speaking and voice articulation throughout his career. His credits to date include over 30 plays and readings as well as 2 films. You can also read his blogs (for theatre related thoughts) and (for thoughts on personal success from an outcast). Follow him on Twitter @TyUnglebower.