While some people enjoy living whichever way the wind blows, I am not by nature a spontaneous person. I like lists, plans, and schedules because they provide a sense of control. I know what’s coming next and what I need to do.
So the freelance/Gainfully Unemployed lifestyle, in which plans often change at the drop of a hat, can present challenges. I’m flexible in some ways (I can do the splits), but not so much in others. Examples: A friend who’s having trouble meeting her deadline needs my help with plotting or just wants to vent. Another whose schedule is as varied as mine wants to get together at the drop of a hat. Do I drop whatever I’m doing to accommodate these requests? If I’m on my way to an audition or a job, obviously the answer is no. But what if I’m working on projects I want to complete on self-imposed deadlines? Is getting my work done as planned more important?
When I am spontaneous, I often feel disrupted instead of easily embracing sudden changes. Though I like keeping to my timetables, it’s hard to say no to social opportunities or when friends want my help. I prefer to work before play, but know I’ll still get my work done in a timely fashion.
Then there’s the randomness of auditions and potential recording dates. Example: an agent called after 5pm to schedule an audition for 10:30 the next morning, with lines to memorize. I had plans that night that would keep me out fairly late, and already had three major events on tap for the next day. Not only that, I was already booked one of the days of the shoot. But I didn’t want to say no to the agent or miss the opportunity to go to the casting agency and meet a potential new client. So I had to scramble to adjust my schedule (requiring the assistance of others to change their schedules) and make the time to learn the lines (fortunately not that many)…all without knowing, of course, if I’d book this job.
There’s a continuum of spontenaeity in various types of acting. One of the reasons I enjoy being in plays/musicals is because I know exactly what to do and say next. I’ve rehearsed and been given direction. I usually know everyone else’s lines by opening night, so it’s easy for me to compensate if someone drops a line or misses an entrance. Voiceover jobs are nice because the copy is right in front of you, Even if there are script changes, you can write them down.
On camera work can be more difficult. You’ve memorized your lines, but someone wants a script change. Remembering the new line(s) on the spot after you’ve already engraved the old ones in your memory is tricky. And when they change the changes…it can be hard to keep track of what is old and new.
More challenging still (though also at times more freeing) is improv, where every word you say, every gesture you make, is spontaneous. You can’t plan ahead, because you don’t know what your scene partner(s) will do or say next. If you try to think of something funny to say/do, you won’t be in the moment and won’t be able to listen and react to what is going on. Usually when doing improv, you’re involved in some scenes, but not all. So even during a show, you have a little time to regroup. But my current job is all improv all the time (except during breaks, of course), with anywhere from one scene partner to twelve and an ever-changing number of patrons joining in. It’s both exhilerating and a bit unnerving to have a job requiring so many hours of being “on” and in character.
First 2010 resolution: learn to adapt more easily to small and large changes in plans. Some suggestions on how to do that:
eHow Spend thirty minutes with a child. These days, I often spend more than that! And it is surprising and fun to see how willing and eager most are to join in the activities my partner and I come up with, from creating new ways to march to doing the Snowflake Dance.
LifeDev Pencil it in. Oooh. Scheduling spontaneity? That I can do!