Primal Energy

For days when you find you’re struggling to mentally “show up” to the play.

The human survival instinct is a powerful thing. When we are truly fighting for something we want, a number of chemicals are released into our bodies and brains to help us keep fighting for the thing until we get it or die trying. I like to think of this as our primal energy–the fuel that allows us to survive under any circumstance. While our ancestors ran from tigers, we can make what our character needs so important to us that our minds and bodies believe they need to kick into action as though we were running from tigers in order to get it.

On a day when I feel mentally unprepared to serve the play, I go to the simplest actor questions: What does your character want? Why is today the most important day of your character’s life? I bump my reasons up ten times more than I thought was possible, and I can feel my body begin to wake up once I believe in the tremendously high stake circumstances I created. Let your imagination loose into the world of the play, and allow your circumstances to engulf your actor brain so only your character can deal with them. (Note: I’m not at all saying you should deviate from the play you’ve rehearsed. I’m saying it is always possible for the actions to matter more to the character.)

Humans focus on one thing at a time. With our one-track minds, we prioritize our actions by level of importance. If the action of your character in a moment becomes a matter of survival, of course your brain will work on that action before others. The trick is to always be surviving something. If you are harnessing your primal energy honestly, it can be incredibly exhausting. It’s good to remember that coffee and naps can be the actor’s best friends.

Mantra: I have energy inside of me. I will give all of my energy to every moment.


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