A Quick Thought On Focus

Oct 18, 2011 by     No Comments    Posted under: Attitude, Producing

What do you do when your focus starts to slip?

Panic? Throw in the towel? Ignore it and keep pushing?

As actors, we sometimes find ourselves in those funky, unproductive-seeming phases where we tend to let our ambition slip a little. We can get lazy about our craft, and our business sense tends to drag. For those of us still working “day jobs” to pay the bills, this feeling can be especially overwhelming during the lean times, when money might not be coming in as steadily, or when things at the office are tense and require a lot of extra energy.

Whatever the reason, there seems enough evidence to make the case that an early acting career can look  a lot like an EKG (the neato gadget that measures the human heartbeat). There are peaks, and there are valleys. Sometimes we ride high with all the confidence in the world, and sometimes things sag a little.

I offer you this: Such highs and lows are proof, in essence, that our hearts are beating, are they not?

We’re alive! We’re humans! Actors are not robots. We are not perfect. Get it?

So I’ll ask again: What do you do when your focus starts to slip? My answer is simply to keep at it. Don’t let it beat you. As long as you have life in your body and the will to pursue your craft, the natural rhythm of your artistic heartbeat will send things shooting back upward before you realize it. Just don’t give up because everything isn’t going your way. Trust that it will turn around.

On a personal note, I bring up all this EKG stuff because I feel like I’ve been letting my focus blur a little. As my company, The Consortium Project, wraps up its latest production, I can’t help but meditate on the ways we’ve grown as a company over the past few years. I can name a handful of challenges on the production side of things that could have been handled differently, and I’m doing my best to file those lessons away for future use. But my daydreams have been along the lines of, “Making theatre from the ground up has been awesome, and I want to learn how to do it better.” I’m interested in creating new challenges for myself, both as an actor and as a member of the theatre-creating community. And while I figure out what exactly that means to me, I begin to feel like I’m stuck in a plateau with my acting career.

And I have to remind myself that I’m alright. That it’s just my heart beating. It’s a good thing.


Joe Von Bokern is the Chicago contingent of this blog. Find out more information and view his materials on his website, or read the rest of his blog posts.