How Acting Classes Changed My Life
Take it from actor Lisa Robinson, acting classes are more than just pretending to be a tree and doing weird animal stretches. A good acting class can can change lives.
PAC would like to thank Lisa for her contribution to this article.
From Hairdressing To Acting (As You Do)
For as long as I can remember, I dreamt of being a hairdresser. I won’t say I was even good at doing hair, let alone cutting it, but a girl’s gotta dream, right? That was my dream.
Then, come Year 8, all wide-eyed, pimply and pubescent, I woke up with the very random dream of being an actor. What now? I’d never even taken a class. I never really watched that many movies either (my sister was the one who saw Titanic 14 times at the cinemas, not me). And let me make mention that I was the shyest, youngest kid in a house full of left-brain achievers.
I can’t explain it.
All I can say is that shy child enrolled in Year 8 Drama Class and then something very powerful happened.
Simple drama games and exercises (the token “pretend to be a tree in the howling wind” springs to mind) changed me, made me open up, made me more me in my own skin. No longer did that shy, no-confidence thing get in the way.
Drama classes changed my outlook.
They changed my life.
> They taught me how to be creative through solving problems.
> How to think on the spot/on my feet and be spontaneous.
> How to laugh at myself (and let’s face it, if we’re not laughing, chances are we’re hysterically crying, right?)
> How to have empathy for others through character observation.
> How to access and be in touch with my emotions (all in a safe space).
> How to read others and myself.
> How to be open to my feelings and emotions, making me more aware.
“Playing someone else also gave me the permission to access a character’s inner confidence which often carried over to my own.”
Like I mentioned before, I definitely wasn’t the outgoing one when I was younger. I was renowned for having super sweaty palms during Year 7 speech time. But somehow, that anxious little kid in me found confidence through acting.
She found herself.
(And so much so at one point when I found myself performing nun-jokes in front of a religious school principal and his just-as-religious wife during a college dinner).
Kids These Days
At the risk of sounding old AF, back in my day, the most we seemed to have to worry about as kids was what colour Sour Warhead or Zoopa Doopa our parents were going to buy us after a long hard day at the beach or playing Slip n Slide in the front yard with the neighbours. (For those of you old enough to remember, you probably chose the red and cola flavours just like I did, and chose not to set your slide up next to a brick wall so as not to slice your brother’s ear half-off on the way down. Sorry bro.).
Fast forward to the 21st century and kids now have iPads and Fortnite to play with, and smashed avocados to chow down on whilst they listen to a fashion podcast or surf Instagram to ultimately feel bad about themselves because everyone else on that thing is so much prettier than they are (insider information: if they say they “just woke up like this”, chances are they really took thirty-seven selfies to get the one, overly-filtered money-shot).
Children have more entertainment and opportunities than ever, right at their very fingertips.
But they’ve also got way more stress.
According to Beyond Blue, one in fourteen young Australians (6.9%) aged 4-17 experienced an anxiety disorder in 2015.
This is equivalent to approximately 278,000 young people. And anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. On average, one in four people – one in three women and one in ﬁve men – will experience anxiety at some stage in their life. In a 12-month period, over two million Australians experience anxiety.”**
Now that’s a freaking lot. And that number’s far too high.
How do we bring that number down?
An acting class may not do it entirely but it sure as hell can help.
I often wonder what it’d be like if I hadn’t woken up with that strange dream of becoming an actor and never enrolled in Drama class. I’m sure I’d be nowhere near as confident as I am today. I’m not saying that I never have an off day, that I don’t still experience nervousness and insecurity (FYI, I can be the queeeen of this some days), but overall, I’ve changed.
Acting classes have made me better – a better person, a better friend – because I’m now a better feeler and more in touch with my emotions, more aware of my mind, my body. I’d like to think I’m now a better version of me. More understanding of myself and others, more empathetic, more… free. And that’s what’s most important, isn’t it?
Just as Tray said it in The Last O.G. (Season 1, Episode 6):
“We are only as free as we are in our mind.”
(Hey, someone else probably said it first but let’s just go with him because the show’s good and I watch a lot of Stan… sorry, not sorry).
Take it from the youngest, shyest child – in a bigger-than-you-can-imagine family of engineers, insurance brokers, property managers, executive assistants, carpenters and all-round achievers – who grew up to be an actor…
Acting classes are powerful AF.
Disclaimer: We do not suggest that an acting class or any other extra-curricular physical or performing arts activity is a cure for anxiety. It is simply one of the many strategies that may help a child to deal with it. Please consult a health care professional to seek help for you child should they be suffering from anxiety. We also recommend the Beyond Blue website for more information.
* Beyond Blue – https://www.youthbeyondblue.com/footer/stats-and-facts
** Beyond Blue – https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety