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Career Dispatches

The Season of Discomfort

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The Season of Discomfort

The end of one year and the beginning of the next means holidays, Academy screeners, Christmas movies on TCM, and above all, varying levels of discomfort. There are many reasons for this—everything from too many people going exactly where you want to go to getting Christmas cards from realtors.

There are hours of programming already devoted to the pressures of the holiday season. I will keep my comments directed at the uncomfortableness for actors in particular:

1. This is the time of year when auditions dry up.
2. This is the time of year when you look back and wonder what might have been.
3. It is the time of year we look ahead and wonder what pilot season will look like.
4. It is the time when parents and loved ones ask if you are making a mistake with your life.
5. It is hard to enjoy time off when you are already unemployed.

All of this creates doubt. Doubt is a close cousin to fear. It tends to diminish us. When the days grow dark and cold, when the future seems as uncertain as it did last year at this time, I recall the words of an old teacher of mine, Ed Kaye-Martin: “Comfort is the enemy of the artist.”

One thing I tell my students: In improvisation, you have to be your own writer, director, producer, technician, composer, and support staff. However you are not allowed to be your own critic. Being your own critic attacks your will. Stanislavsky said the primary element involved in the creative process is not talent but will.

My New Year’s wish for you all is the gift of will.

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