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Acting

Performance Energy

Let’s talk about magic. The type that swirls around us human folk without us even knowing, without us even trying. The kind of magic I’m talking about is the kind that arises from our natural human energies and the way those energies interact with those around us.

Many years ago— before I became someone’s wife and someone’s Mummy—my thing was acting. There were so many aspects to treading the boards that I loved. Embodying a character essentially gave me permission to do a whole bunch of fun things the real me would never get away with in real life. I mean. How’s that for awesome?

Those years were some of the most wonderful of my life, where I got to unleash my creative essence on the world and have a whole lot of fun along the way. Every show was different. Every character I played: different, each with their own unique personality trying to make its way into the world, through me.

One thing was always the same, though. The backstage buzz. The energy. Every night before the curtains parted, the cast and crew would stand in the wings with wide eyes and vibrating hair—visible signs of the excited, nervous energy that lived within and around us.

This energy was always there, and it was unmistakable. And though none of us could put our finger on how it was made, or where it came from within our bodies, there would not be an actor out there who could deny its magic. To this day I’m in awe of its power, and the potential it always poured into the performance to come.

But even though the energy of stage actors themselves is otherworldly and brilliant, perhaps the most baffling and awe-inspiring energy transfer is that between the audience and the actors. More specifically, how the energy of the audience, as a collective, influences the energy of the performance.

A ‘good’ or ‘bad’ audience can change a show entirely. A ‘good’ audience has the ability to lift a performance. A ‘bad’ audience has the ability to kill it. Human energy, cause and effect. Life transferred from one group to another, each affecting the other in ways the rational mind can’t even come close to understanding.

So. For those actors, musicians, live performers out there who might be wondering…you’re not alone if you’ve felt it. I’ve felt it, and many performers I know have felt it, too.

As for those of us who are, at one time or another, members of an audience—look around. Are people smiling as the show goes on? Or are they just a bit ho-hum about the whole shebang? Because If they’re a bit ho-hum…chances are the actors are backstage, wondering where all the laughs have gone and disappointed not to have the chance to feed off the positive energy of a ‘good’ audience.

My advice to any theatre, dance, or live music lovers out there would be this: if you’re unlucky enough to see a show on a ‘bad’ audience night…go see it again. I can guarantee you, it will be a different show next time around. A better one. And all thanks to that mysterious universal thing: human energy. Magic. Don’t you think?

woman with white shirt raising her right hand
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