The Path to Passion

“Acting is my passion!!” is a statement those of us who teach theatre have heard more times than we care to think about. And for one in a hundred, it’s true. For most, it’s what one is says when one is studying drama and has not yet discovered his/her true passion, or maybe even his/her real direction.

For most theatre (and other arts) students there are tens if not hundreds of choices. Everything interests them, so with such an overabundance of choice, it becomes easier to settle on one that seems comfortable and desirable and expected than it is to explore all of the possibilities to discover one’s actual passion. So they profess that acting is their passion and their life.

All one has to do is watch, and the actions of these will tell you whether they want to really be actors or not. People who are passionate about acting will behave like they are passionate about acting. They want to learn all they can about the craft. They want to do actual acting. If they’re not doing it, they’re talking about it or reading about it, or watching it or thinking about it, all of which, for an artist, is part of doing.

Just like writers in the anecdotes who would write on any scrap of paper they could find, those who are passionate about acting, who must act, will find a way. They may not become professional actors, but they might. They might find that some other path provides a better opportunity for income, so the passion gets relegated to the status of hobby or side-job; others go the other way: they take side-jobs so they can afford to be a professional at the work that is their passion.

“People are known by their actions, not their words.”   It’s a sentiment that gets attributed to lots of people in lots of time and places. It’s also true. If a student indicates by actions that he/she doesn’t want what he/she says is wanted, then that student is not being truthful or he/she cannot connect want and behavior.

If a student who has declared acting to be his/her life spends more time on computer games, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he/she wants to be a professional computer gamer, but rather that he/she doesn’t want to be an actor. What such a student really wants is impossible to determine; it may be some other area of drama or completely outside the theatrical universe.

The larger problem comes when the artist-to-be doesn’t know where or how to look elsewhere. Some of us, teachers or not, have encountered this same problem before we found the path that led to the passion that has brought us to where we are today. So now we owe it to these young artists (whether they are students or not) to guide them away from that which obviously is not their passion and encourage them to discover what really kindles their imaginations, what, once discovered, they can’t not do.

And we must remind them that there really are no restrictions on which paths to explore. I know a number or people who, had they felt really free to explore without limits when they were young, would have ended up with far different artistic lives.

Almost everyone advises us to follow our passion. Sound advice, I think, but you can’t follow it if you can’t find it.

Date: Monday, 21. March 2016 0:13
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Creativity, Education

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  1. Jasminne Mendez
    Monday, 21. March 2016 8:19

    Hi! I love this piece and would love to see it shared far and wide. I have a contact at HowLRound an online journal for theatre professionals. He might be interested in having this further developed and published on the site. Let me know if you want to learn more. This is a great post, as a teaching artist myself and someone who once aspired to be an actress but found my real passion to be writing this really resonates with me!

  2. 2

    Thank you.

  3. 3

    Thank you Jay! This article really resonates with me. Acting is truly
    My passion and it is also important I found for me to have financial stability. So some would judge and say that acting was a side job for me because I have another career during the day that is far from the Arts. However, on the contrary, my day job IS my side job. I like it and it affords me comfort and not to have to worry or take acting jobs that don’t resonate with me just because I need to eat. I can focus more on my craft than ever. I can do it unabashedly with out being torn between survival and craft. It’s just what works best for me. I also teach at an acting studio and I see so many students that come in unprepared and pay money for something they truly
    only think they care about. I try to steer them to their truth by shining light on exactly what you wrote about and how they use their time.
    Thank you again. I needed to hear this!

  4. 4

    I love the way you put it: “My day job IS my side job.” Don’t be surprised to see yourself quoted.

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