Michael Chekhov's 'Theater of the Future' -- what does it have to do with you?

How Do You Not Burn Out As An Artist/Creator/Administrator and Bring Joy?

Lauren Dobbie - 15 July 2012




How Do You Not Burn Out As An Artist/Creator/Administrator?
Convened By Llyandra Jones
Merged with Bringing Joy to the Process
Convened by Peter Tedeschi
Commenced at 10:10am, Sunday July 15th, 2012

In attendance: Llyandra Jones, Margaret Evraire, Jared Bishop, Lauren Dobbie, Peter Tedeschi, Jorg Andrees, Kristine Gilreath

Llyandra began the session, mentioning that she intended to merge our group with Hugo's or Peter's, as both were relevant to what we were discussing/exploring.

Llyandra expressed her experience as Artistic Director of Docket Theatre (a Toronto based, independent, non-profit theatre company… - Playing the roles of Artistic Director and Director, she found it was sometimes difficult to let go of one role in the midst of fulfilling another
Spoke of a THRESHOLD that must be crossed in order to drop extraneous business in the head and to be present

Peter Tedeschi then joined the group

  • Mentioned that when you start a company, usually 2 people are doing 90% of the work
  • Companies need to be willing to grow slowly
  • Roles must be clearly defined in order to achieve harmonious productivity

We realized that defining roles is crucial when working professionally amongst friends

Jorg Andrees joined our group

We shared how we personally go about quieting our mind/preparing ourselves to be present

  • Lauren does this by creating a dialogue with herself, usually lying quietly with herself - addressing her sensations and thoughts as honestly as possible
  • Margaret does this by taking the time to physically express herself in a spontaneous, cathartic way (ex. running, jumping, laughing, crying, etc)

Peter touched on the “burning out” that comes from daily life (critiques, rejection, call backs, etc). This can be physically and mentally exhausting and can make people miserable. He made a point…

“If I'm going to let what I do make me miserable, I might as well make millions on Wall St.”

Acting is a privilege! If we can find the joy and energy to do it, we are the blessed.

Jorg contributed to this:

  • It starts with concentration
  • One must separate, clarify and create a structure for their process
  • Exercise your focus/concentration so you can atleast somewhat let go of outside “junk” (if not 100%, maybe then 50% at least

Peter asked Jorg what specific exercises might work best for this. Jorg answered:
  • 4 stages of concentration
  • Transformation exercise with a visible object
(both Chekhov exercises)

Lauren brought up the subject of “midnight exhaustion”… when you are physically burnt out. What do you do?

  • Llyandra: "I don't check in, I just go, go, go and get it done until I can eventually crash
  • Margaret: “You need to set boundaries. An Equity show would never work like that”
  • Peter: “You can't do it all. You need to make choices. Sometimes you have to close off other options”

Exercises and Activities

Jorg contributed with an exercise:
  • Give yourself a time (ex. 10am)
  • Every morning at 10am, imagine an existing object (ex. a chair) for as long as you can. Play with your imagination, but sustain the image
  • After one week of doing this everyday at the same time with the same object, this structure and concentration will leave you feeling fulfilled and accomplished
  • Make plans today for the training you will do tomorrow
  • Give yourself the time you need and be honest… Maybe 15 minutes of work is enough. Maybe you'll need more. Maybe less.
  • Create a personal warm-up for yourself, and make two versions of it. A 3 minute “pocket version”, and the full 30-60 minute version

We 6 have resolved to do this everyday for a week

Jared shared a quote:
“Even when not on stage, dancers are constantly practicing. Musicians practice everyday, whether there's an audience or not. When actors aren't acting… they're waiting for their phones to ring”

Lauren brought up something she'd wanted to convene a session on… “Chekhov on-the-go. Can it be practiced in everyday life, on the streets or in the subway, amongst friends and strangers?”

Peter's response
  • Traded in his bed for a pullout couch and transformed his bedroom into a studio. Complete with glow in the dark stars on the ceiling for inspiration/joy/beauty/imagination
  • In the city, he looks for colours to observe. ("I'm going to find this shade of red")
  • Listening to other people's conversations and figuring out how he'd contribute/what vocal quality that might have

Games that challenge focus
  • “Whatever you do… do NOT think of the giant pink elephant”… one cannot help but imagine it
  • “I lost the game” - The point of this game is that when you are not thinking of the game, you're winning. As soon as you think of it, you lose
  • “Don't think of the number 5”


Peter: Some actors obsess about auditions 3 days after they've happened. I give myself 10 minutes to be human (angry, upset, annoyed, frustrated, etc.)

Jorg: “You must tell yourself, ‘I am not going to an audition… I’m going to help them explore all my great possibilities”

More on burning out…

Jorg: “If you had a meeting with the director, would you be on time?
All: ”Yes!“
Jorg: ”What about if you're the director?"
*A moment… all absorb this insight*

Actor on the Go

Peter discusses his priorities - which sometimes stray more toward logistics than the actual art (He's more focused on the fact he made it on time to all his auditions that day, printed off his resumes, caught the bus in time… essentially, hit all the check marks. The actual audition (the ART) was maybe 20% of his journey that day).

Kristine Gilreath joined

With 15 minutes left, Llyandra asked Jorg if he'd be willing to lead a concentration exercise.

Jorg put a blue marker in the middle of a white piece of paper on the ground. We all sat around it and focused on it for 2 minutes.
We could hear things around us: the ticking sound of a golf cart trying to start, distant applause and laughter. A beetle scuttled across the paper and past the marker. We were able to acknowledge these things around us, without losing too much focus on the object. However, Jared mentioned than concentration is not the same as staring… For some, our mind would wander when we heard or saw things outside the marker.
This “crossing” was the first stage of the exercise. The second stage (“opening and receiving”) was to start again, but to let the image come to us.
After this, Jared admitted it was difficult not to have an inner dialogue. Llyandra said her senses were heightened, that she was able to recieve other sounds and acknowledge them while still focusing
Jorg asked us how we felt in comparison to before the exercise. There was no denying that we felt more awake and alert

Jorg urged us to do this everyday, at the same time, with the same object in order to train our possibilities

And then it was over

Adjourned at 11:40pm





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