I remember the first time Lee Brock (TBG co-artistic director and teaching artist) asked me how much fun I was having after my first go of a scene. It was in the master class, which by name alone can carry some pressure. In verbatim, she asked my scene partner and me, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how much fun are you having?”
I was thrown off by the question. “Maybe a 5?” It seemed I was even unsure of how to answer.
“Well, maybe we can go for a 9,” Lee replied. And, of course, the invitation to have more fun truly did open the door for more fun. But it was a revelation to me that day: how often the actor forgets to have fun. Or maybe we don’t forget to have fun, but things often feel like they get in the way: the pressure we put on ourselves while performing, the stress we get over being line perfect, and/or even the nerves we experience when all eyes are on us.
It’s easy for “FUN” to go on the back burner.
However, when Lee gave my scene partner and me permission to up our fun level on the invisible fun-o-meter, all of a sudden, our classmates noticed we were more playful, more spontaneous, we were starting to break patterns, and we were actually having fun. And isn’t it true? Acting is fun!
It’s actually one of the reasons that I fell in love with acting in the first place. My high school had an amazing theatre arts program that produced over a dozen shows throughout the school year focused on music, dance, and acting. Reflecting back on that time, the joy and fun of playing with my classmates on stage was unmatched, and it’s easily what made me want to pursue acting as an adult.
As Lee reminded our class, “It’s called a play for a reason!” How quickly we can forget our enjoyment of acting when other stuff gets in the way.
Even as a teacher today, this is a tool I throw often and a tool I see Lee continually throwing us in the master class. Because every now and then, we can all use the reminder to have more fun.
But guess what? Maybe you don’t even need a teacher to give you license for fun. This is something you can invite yourself to do wherever you find yourself playing.
Zsuzska Beswick is a Chinese, Jamaican, German, Hungarian, and first-generation American actress based in Brooklyn, New York. Upon graduating college, she joined the Barrow Group community as an acting apprentice and has been training and teaching at the Barrow Group ever since.
You can find TBG’s full schedule of classes here.