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The last few years, for me, have been about accomplishing very specific goals artistically, to find the correct artistic configuration (which takes longer than you might think), and getting my various working processes to work in harmony with eachother, and so increase the quality of my work, and in turn my productivity. Of course, a perfect situation is never arrived at, for there is always the day-to-day refinement and improvement of method, of sharpening my understanding, of getting my thinking to be bell-clear about what it is I am trying to do. Having said that however, I feel broadly speaking I am on the right trajectory, which means that if I keep going as I am, then over time I will accomplish my life’s goals. This is an important place to be, because I am able to launch several projects into motion simultaneously, and am well placed to cope with the fierce workload.

How does the actor know if he is on the right trajectory long-term (ie- that he is not wasting his time)? The peculiar position for all actors is that there is no ladder (no matter how we try to imagine there is one), there is no general formula for progression, there is no career path as such – there basically are no rules, and that is why the actor’s life cannot be studied, cannot be mapped out before it begins, the actor just needs to make a start and learn as he goes, making adjustments on the hoof, and hopefully not repeating the same mistakes. Trajectory then, is a personal thing. The actor must define his goals for himself, and work backwards from those goals to determine trajectory. But how does he define his goals? How does he know that the goals he set himself are infact his goals? Ie- are the goals he’s set really the things he wants to spend his life trying to accomplish? If you think that’s a stupid question, might I say that over the years I’ve come across many actors, filmmakers, writers etc, who go on and on about how much they love their chosen art form, only to quit practicing it entirely, after a couple of years or so. Love is not enough. So, how does the actor know if the goals he’s set himself are the right ones? The answer is: he cannot know, not for at least a few years anyway, after a few years of toil and failure, of remaining on that track until it clicks into place. After a certain period of time without finding the right trajectory, he may start to feel as though the goals he’s set himself are no longer worth gambling more time out of his life for, and are no longer worth the hassle, and he may choose to do something else, something which is mapped out and provides guaranteed rewards (such as a salaried office job) – and the answer to the question will have been found.

The important point is this: if you want to be an artist, then you’ve got to spend that time finding out about yourself, and finding out about your art. Things won’t unfold as you thought they would, and your life won’t take the same pattern as many of your peers who chose the safe path of routine. But if you are willing to put in the hard yards, then you will know the exhilaration of discovering your true purpose in life, you will discover that thing which will give meaning to everything you do. In my book, that’s worth fighting for.

One thought on “The Great Acting Blog: “The Right Trajectory”

  1. There is enormous pressure on young actors to "get work" that it seems not enough time is spent developing art n craft, so what you’re left with is a generation of actors who are functional and treat the work as hum-drum, and they end up putting their energy into self-promotion as a result. Perhaps it is a change of mindset which is needed – I doubt that would happen on a general level, but the possibility must be open for the individual actor to do so. This may lead to a more artistic form of acting.You’re theatre company sounds fascinating – I wish you all the best with it. Please do keep us informed. Thanks for your comment. James.

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