By Jake Orr
The last few weeks you can’t blink without another announcement of a new theatre season. Actors in audition rooms, creatives in rehearsals, painters painting sets, producers grinding budgets, nature is returning to the theatre ecology.
…so why am I filled with such dread?
It’s easy to see the announcements of freelancers returning to work and to have the international dialogue asking “what about me?”. In a year where our emotional wellbeing has been put to the test, it’s easy to slip into negative thought patterns with theatres opening next month. Core beliefs ringing “I’m not good enough” and “I don’t deserve this”. Seeing jobs advertised and asking “can I still do this?” and “I can’t apply, I’m too out of practice”. That little voice in your head becoming louder and louder until you’re smashing leftover Easter eggs and hugging a copy of Stanislavski’s An Actor Prepares whilst watching reruns of Friends.
If the past year has taught us anything, it is kindness. First and foremost, to ourselves.
The kindness we have found across the pandemic shouldn’t dissolve as soon as theatres reopen. When your brain kicks in with self-doubt, we need to reboot our active kindness. Take a moment, ask yourself ‘what evidence is there to support this?’ and ‘who has said this to me?’ Chances are there isn’t any and you’re your own worst enemy. Take a moment to be kind to yourself. Breathe. Logoff. Go for a walk. Call a friend.
Let’s be honest, the rebooting of the industry comes with pain too. I’m mourning the loss of talent and the shows that never made it to the stage. During those moments of sadness I have to enact kindness. A small act of kindness to ourselves can go a long way.
Kindness doesn’t stop with ourselves either. For those returning to the workplace, congratulations! Take a moment to think about what kindness means for you within the rehearsal room, the office or on the stage. Instead of asking ‘how have you been?’ or ‘how was your pandemic?’ consider asking ‘how are you today?’. You might want to consider what you’re posting on social media too, especially on those first few days. Take a moment before hitting tweet and ask yourself; ‘how is this going to be perceived’, and maybe check in with friends who haven’t had the call to work yet. Those small acts of kindness will go a long way in getting the industry - all of us - back to work in the healthiest way possible.
Bringing kindness into theatre doesn’t cost anything. In fact it should have been there all along.
So here’s a challenge for you: How are you going to find kindness in your everyday life in and out of theatre? Drop us a tweet on @FreelanersMake – we’d love to hear your ideas.