This is part of a poem I learned in drama school referring to the audience, they’re the reason acting exists after all, and I’ve never resonated with a poem truer that the one bellow.
“The Big Black Giant who looks and listens with thousands of eyes and ears,
A big black mass of love and pity and troubles and hope and fears,
And every night the mixture’s different,
Although it may look the same.
To feel his way with every mixture
Is part of the actor’s game”. – Oscar Hammerstein II
I love seeing excited faces walk into the theatre, it doesn’t matter if I’m on stage or on screen just knowing I have the ability to change the mood or emotions of even one person is why I do what I do.
I won’t lie to you. I had to grow to love the stage. I thought I only ever wanted to shine on screen. I was scared of the audience, the big black giant. This fear meant I couldn’t reach my full potential with my fellow actors on stage and as much as we need to entertain and make the audience feel something, we also need to work off each other. By working off another actor you can actually make the audience feel more from your performance. So, conquering my fear was my only option.
My journey into loving the audience first truly blossomed during a film festival I had a film featured “pillow talk” in. I didn’t think about anything but affecting my fellow actor during filming. The night of the festival I was watching 15 other films and was so nervous at where mine would stack up against them. When it came on my heart was racing, I was sitting up the back just watching the audience and at first it was quiet but then something magical happened, they were laughing, my little comedy film was actually making the people laugh and not just a little but the entire theatre was in stitches! The energy and momentum kept building and it was so beautiful that I fell in love with my fear and suddenly wasn’t scared anymore.
It made me push myself into doing plays on stage and seeing how the audience is affected each night but not only the way I affect them but how they affect me. There’s a common trap we can fall into as actors which is chasing the reaction from the first night, but in time we realise each night the audience is its own beast (this is a deeper issue for another blog post). It really made me grow as an actor and realise many things about myself and the work I do. The stage is one of the rushes that drives me.