In regards to performing professionally, humility has been of utmost importance to me from the get-go. My experiences in high school as the arrogant, cocky football/basketball star taught me plenty about the repercussions of having a swollen head. As with writing (and just about all good art), it’s about showing, not telling. I continue to carry a beginners mind as my street theater career progresses and I evolve as a performer, knowing that holding my head too high means I’m not watching my feet. New Orleans teaches you to watch your step, lest you trip over its tumultuous surface.
Join me in a thought experiment: imagine you are walking down the street or through a busy park. It’s a beautiful day. There are children, teenagers, adults and elderly couples moseying about. Stopping for a moment to look at all the people around you, imagine knowing deep down that without a doubt you were 110% capable of getting all of those people to spontaneously come together. It is an intoxicating thing, the ability to convince strangers to form a circle around you and pour their energy into the group they’ve formed, clapping and cheering at your command. On an energetic level, imagine being able to suddenly elevate the overall mood of everyone within fifty yards of you, spreading smiles and co-creating memories with the random people passing by. Imagine having complete confidence that you could quickly transform their money into your money with all parties involved feeling absolutely wonderful about the experience.
It takes a strong ego to be able to do a circle show, especially if you’re doing it solo. People are drawn to leaders, and good leaders draw strong people to their cause. To me (opinion disclaimer), it seems like the really great leaders are the ones that can bring people together, and then know how to relinquish that control. To me, great leaders step back after the initial unification takes place and the individuals bond temporarily as a cohesive unit. After that the leader only guides subtly (if at all).
The best shows I’ve ever done had really strong moments that I did not create — I merely created the conditions necessary for them to exist. Humans, like most mammals, naturally play. Gifted with expression, we love to make faces and joke and be surprised. We love interacting, the more spontaneous the better. When given a metaphorical field to frolic in, humans do some really beautiful things. Currently, my job is to make that field pop up in the middle of the street in one of the most dangerous cities in the country.
What I’m getting at is that it takes a lot of confidence, which is the kindling that can blaze into a bon fire of self-centeredness. Street performers often have some rooted psychological need for attention, usually coupled with a passion for a specific performance art and a distaste for authoritative bosses telling them what to do. The ego, responsible for keeping us alive and evolving, has become a gift and curse for the conscious being.
I have been coming up with a lot of new material lately, and over the last month I have been addicted to growing as a character and developing a better show. I’ve never been so passionate about anything in my life, and it’s almost starting to freak me out. I perform all day and then go home to practice new routines. I’m noticing the financial rewards of putting in overtime at home, & it’s become a vicious (though enjoyable) cycle. On days that I’ve committed to taking off and resting, I still somehow sneak out of my house and do a few shows. Whenever I hear applause it elicits a little spark in my head, even when it’s not for me. The “performers high” is quite addictive, but as long as I don’t discover the cure, I oughta be alright.
As always, thanks for reading =)