How can I play when I’m so desperate to impress?

Convener(s): Suzy Harvey


John Gaulton, Matt Trueman, Laura Hooper, Lee Ravitz, Frances Grey, James Bush, Alyn Gwyndat, Diane Parker, Gillian Russel, John Pintner, Fiona Griffiths, Kas Darley, Holly McBride, Chris Hill, Gemma Paintin, Tim Lenkiewicz, Anne Tipton, Phelim McDermott, Matilda and a fair few beautiful butterflies.

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations: 

People we are trying to impress:

Ourselves, our parents, BAC, casting directors, audition panels, the audience, other actors, the teacher, the people of Sweden, our friends who come and watch us, but know nothing about theatre. 

What is impressive to us?

When we are moved, when we see someone fully commit, when someone is honest, generous and open. When people don’t care so much. Dancers who can get their foot up by their ear.

Leaving an impression is a hope for the future - it’s like wax: when you melt it, you are caught up in the joy of doing it. Even as you sink your thumb into its softness and warmth, you are engaged in the moment. Only after all that have you left an impression. 


Is ugly. It cripples you and it makes you shit.

There’s an energy in desperation – perhaps you can play with that energy?

Like relationships, if you become desperate for approval, it goes wrong.

Get rid of it.


You can’t play if you’re desperate

What’s stopping play? FEAR of failure.

Gems that arose from the conversation: 

This problem will always be there. It will never go away.

It’s a very human thing – needing validation – questioning what people think of me.

If you’re aiming for it, you’re sure to fuck it up.

My parents are waiting for me to fall on my face

I don’t know if I’m ever impressed by something.

You can’t do anything to make people like you.

If someone doesn’t have fear, I don’t trust them.

I’m an actor – I’m terrified. Partly, it’s why I do what I do – I’m interested in being in a dangerous place.

It’s great when other people think shit work is good – at least it shows that not everyone’s standards are as high as mine.

When I experience flow, I’m sort of just doing it – I’m not thinking about impressing anyone.

So much of my desire to impress is tied up with my own desire to be impressed.

There is no right thing but everything (nobody understands what this means, but it was said with such conviction, we all agreed it was great).

It’s a bit like life: If you go to a party and you’re desperate to impress you’ll have a shit time.

Advice on how to play and forget about impressing people: 



Do it from your heart

Open your heart

Engage as truthfully as possible

Believe in yourself

Work with integrity

Make the environment you’re working in safe.

Know that what you’re doing is right

Have confidence that you are doing the right thing

Trust yourself and the people you’re working with

It’s not a competition.

Get rid of the desperation. It’s ugly.

Represent yourself fairly

Don’t be precious – say what you think

Don’t pretend

Give, give, give all that you can

Be honest

You can’t fail if you’ve been honest

Be your own approver

Change your criteria: say, “I’m going to be so impressed with myself that I go in and I don’t care”

Don’t be afraid to fail

Let go