Years ago, a friend named Tracy offered me an acting tip that has become part of every on-and-off-stage day of my life. It also affects my yoga.
We were in a play called Good Night Desdemona. I had to travel through time each night by disappearing through an absurdly small garbage can into, well, into the past to meet both Desdemona and Juliet. I climbed towers, faught with swords, was nearly strangled by Desdemona, and iambic pentameter-ed my way through seven enormous monologues that would have humbled Hamlet. It was a monster of a challenge.
On more than one night, I cursed myself for getting something wrong–missing lines, breaking my sword (tough to fight convincingly with a sword stump), not projecting my lines from under the pillow Desdemona used to suffocate me, etc.
One night, Tracy (Juliet) heard me whacking myself to smithereens at intermission.
“No way,” she said. Gotta stop that.
She said we can’t afford to criticize ourselves. It takes us out of our story, out of our best skills, and it ruins our relationship with other actors and our audience. It ruins our relationship with everything to come.
Practice instant forgiveness, she says. It’s the best tool there is for an actor. Everything starts again now.
This morning, in a seated forward bend, I thought, holy Toledo, my hamstrings are tight. Not enough yoga and too many butter tarts yesterday. (I don’t see the relationship between the two, now, but they felt completely connected this morning.)
And right behind it, like a great actor on cue, I thought; instant forgiveness, honey. Everything starts again now. Which saved the show.
Thanks to Tracy for the acting lesson, and thanks to you for the conversation.
Kristin practices yoga, theatre, public speaking, writing, and chiropractic in North Bay, Ontario, at kristinshepherd.ca and at Dr. Kristin Shepherd on Facebook.