Theatre is a collaborative art. It's crucial to be open to other people's opinions while balancing this with faith in our own. However, in a profession where someone else's opinion regularly holds the key to your employment - or lack of, it's easy to lose self-belief. Even once we're in work, we await the verdict of almighty reviewers.
So, how do we stay mentally healthy amongst all the rejection emails, challenging rehearsal processes and not-so-constructive criticism? The answer is to keep nurturing that inner barometer. When you are confident in yourself, it's easier to manage criticism and rejection.
Nurture your inner barometer by continual checking in with what you like and don't like in theatre. See as wide a range of performance styles as you can. Analyse them, never allow yourself to judge a performance, genre or process without understanding why you did or didn't like it. Look beneath your assumptions. Never be afraid to have a different opinion to others - you don't have to share your it - but you do have to value it.
Sometimes you will get negative feedback and your guts will tell you it's true, notice your feelings. It's ok. Accept that good actors still make mistakes. Yes! It's essential. Do not fall into the trap of thinking you've ruined your whole career just because you fluffed a couple of lines.
And if your inner voice is still somewhat perplexed, call a friend. But make it one who shares your values. It's essential to have people you can rely on to tell you the truth.
Of course, trusting your own opinion doesn't mean ignoring feedback, or doing your own thing in an ensemble piece. But it does make you less dependent on external validation, and it does help you to identify the type of theatre that means something to you. Theatre is subjective, and there are so many different ways to make great theatre. It is simply impossible to fit everyone's concept of a great actor. So instead, you have to tune in to that knowledge in your gut and trust in your own opinion. The more you nurture your values, the clearer that internal voice will get.
At Theatre Foundry, our teaching approach is focused on helping you develop your inner voice. Next Courses: Viewpoints Oct 6th and Shakespeare Sundays from October 27th 2019 More info on our workshops page https://www.theatrefoundry.co.uk/theatre-foundry-workshops