Creative visualization and mental rehearsal for actors

Creative visualization is the cognitive process of generating mental imagery, with eyes open or closed, simulating or recreating visual perception in order to maintain, inspect, and transform those images and consequently modifying their associated emotions and feelings with intent to experience a subsequent beneficial effect, alleviating anxiety, improving self-esteem and self-confidence, and enhancing the capacity to cope when interacting with others.

For actors, mental rehearsal can make a big impact on performance. Research shows that mentally rehearsing scenes, monologues or auditions in your head is almost as effective as actual rehearsal. The explanation is that the same neural pathways are activated by mental rehearsal as actual rehearsal.

So how should you mentally rehearse? First, relax, find somewhere comfortable and quiet and breathe deeply. In through the nose, then hold and out through the mouth.  Second, imagine in vivid details of sound, movement, feelings and visualisation, whatever you want to practise. Third, imagine it from beginning to end, including a successful conclusion. Fourth, repeat regularly. Mental rehearsal is a technique that athletes, musicians, doctors, soldiers, and even astronauts use to prepare for the worst and perform at their best. 

Mark Westbrook's Actor's Guide to Overcoming Mental Interference

Even the best actors can struggle to convert audition opportunities in acting jobs. The 12 Obstacles, An Actor's Guide to Overcoming Mental Interference in Exceptional Performance, reveals how all of us are challenged by the mental interference of performing under pressure, because audition success requires more than just good acting and a bit of luck. 

Author, acting coach and performance psychology expert Mark Westbrook reveals the 12 most common obstacles that stand in the way of our best acting performances under pressure. Mark offers powerful tools for overcoming these obstacles, freeing your natural ability from the restraints of the Inner Critic. 

Mark Westbrook is one of the most outspoken acting coaches in the UK, his blog is regularly read by over 30,000 people. His clients include Oscar and BAFTA winners. He is the author of Truth in Action, a Manual of Common Sense for Actors. Every day Mark helps actors overcome their mental obstacles on their way to a more truthful and captivating performance.

Marks says: "We are masters of self-sabotage. t's my mission to help you overcome the mental obstacles that block the route to exceptional performance. In my eBOOK The 12 Obstacles, I'll introduce you to the 12 mental obstacles that you'll have to overcome to give every performance your best.  Then, I'll give suggestions about how to overcome them. And you can download it for free. So what's stopping you?"


Michelle Terry New Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe

An Olivier Award-winning actor and writer, Michelle is well-known to the Globe’s stage, having starred as Rosalind in As You Like It (2015), as Titania/Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night's Dream (2013) and as the Princess of France in Love's Labour's Lost (2007). She also directed Richard III, King John and As You Like It for The Complete Walk (2016), a series of short films created as part of the Globe’s celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

Michelle Terry says: ‘The work of Shakespeare is for me timeless, mythic, mysterious, vital, profoundly human and unapologetically theatrical. There are no other theatres more perfectly suited to house these plays than the pure and uniquely democratic spaces of The Globe and the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. I am so proud and excited that I will be in the privileged position where I can offer artists the opportunity to come together to reclaim and rediscover not only Shakespeare, but the work of his contemporaries, alongside new work from our current writers. For us to then share those stories with an audience that demands an unparalleled honesty, clarity and bravery, is all a dream come true.’

Michelle most recently starred as the eponymous king in Henry V at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, and as Grace in Katie Mitchell’s production of Cleansed for the National Theatre. Her other stage credits include Much Ado About Nothing, The Crucible and Love’s Labour’s Lost (Royal Shakespeare Company), All’s Well That Ends Well (National Theatre), Privacy (Donmar Warehouse) and In The Republic of Happiness (Royal Court). She won an Olivier Award for her performance in Tribes at the Royal Court in 2010 and she is an Associate Artist for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Michelle also wrote and starred in the Sky One series The Café with Ralf Little; with Rob Hastie she created My Mark, the Donmar’s ten-year project to chart the political growth of the next voting generation; most recently she co-wrote and performed Becoming: part one with Rosalie Craig at The Donmar Warehouse. Michelle trained at RADA.


71e Festival d'Avignon, Theatre and Performing Arts

The Avignon festival founded in 1947 by Jean Villar is one of the oldest and most famous theatre and performing arts festivals in the world. Festival performances take place throughout three entire weeks in July and feature the best playwrights and actors working in contemporary creations. The director of the festival, author, director and actor Olivier Py designed a Festival for the people, a celebration of the mind, the desire to hear from a new generation of artists.

The Festival d'Avignon is the place where artists with many different aesthetics come together and present, discuss and share their vision. Different origins, different backgrounds and generations, all on stage and behind the scenes during the Festival, where avant-garde and tradition co-exist. Over 40 different plays are performed in more than twenty venues, from small, 150-seat chapels to the 2000-seat legendary Honour Courtyard in the Palace of the Popes, and now the FabricA, a year round Festival venue. 

Hortense Archambault and Vincent Baudriller, appointed Festival directors in 2003, located the Festival offices in Avignon to provide it with deep local roots. Since September 2013, the new director Olivier Py - author, director and actor - continues this approach. Olivier Py seeks a Festival which is both for the people and a celebration of the mind. In addition to the performing arts, the Festival is the place for exchange, discussion and confrontation of ideas, with conferences, interviews, shows, cinema, music and other arts. 



Run-through, Cue to Cue and Dressed Rehearsal

The dress rehearsal is a full-scale rehearsal where the actors and musicians perform every detail of the performance. For a theatrical performance, actors wear their costumes. The cast members may use props and backdrops; they do not use scripts, though the stage manager and director might. AN 'open-dress' is a dress rehearsal to which specific individuals have been invited to attend as audience members. 

In theatre a performing arts ensemble rehearses a work in preparation for performance before an audience. Rehearsals that occur early in the production process are sometimes referred to as 'run-throughs'. Typically a run-through doesn't contain many of the technical aspects of a performance, and is primarily used to assist performers in learning dialogues and to solidify aspects of blocking and stage movement.

A Q-2-Q or 'cue to cue' is a type of technical rehearsal and is intended primarily for the lighting and audio technicians involved in a performance, although they are of great value to the entire ensemble. It is intended to allow the technicians and stage manager to rehearse the technical aspects of a performance - when lights have to be turned on, sound effects triggered, and items rolled on and off the stage - and identify and resolve any glitches that may arises. Performers typically do not rehearse entire scenes during a Q-2-Q, but instead only perform dialogues or actions that are used by the stage manager as a marker for when to initiate technical sequences of cues. 

Best Theatre Podcasts (2)

The Producer's Perspective
Ken Davenport is a broadway producer. His work includes Godspell, Kinky Boots and Deaf West Theatre's Spring Awakening. He's also the creator of a blog on the role of the broadway producer. His guests include playwrights, directors, composers and of course a few fellow producers. It gives a great perspective on American theatre and it's interesting to think about the similarities as well as the differences with British theatre. His recent interview with The Stage regular Howard Sherman covered subscription theatre, theatre building and their (lack) of comfort, the secondary ticket market and the relationship Broadway has with off-Broadway and theatre across the US.

Guildhall School of Music and Drama
For those applying to drama school, Guildhall's podcast is a must. the podcast has a series of 'in conversation' with the cast, crew and creative team of their public productions. along with its discussions of productions, there are also some insightful podcast with staff, such as voice coach Patsy Rodenburg, on their technical theatre exhibition. The podcast gives a great insight into the work happening in a conservatoire.

Inside Acting
Inside Acting comes from LA. The episodes range from interviews to listeners questions to roundtable discussions. They cover topics such as trusting your guts, treating acting as a sales job, avoiding scams and finding a good theatre group. the podcast offers an insight into what life is like being an actor in LA.

Off Book
Off Book is the Young Vic's podcast. it features interviews with some of the artists who have visited the Young Vic. Conversations bring to light people's first experiences  with the arts and theatre, how their backgrounds have informed the work they produce today and how they have developed throughout their careers. 

London venues: The King's Head Theatre

The King's Head theatre introduces itself as London's most ambitious pub theatre, committed to produce unapologetic work. Dan Crawford led the venue for 35 years establishing it as a breeding ground for new talents and great work. The walls of the pub display the multitude of famous faces that bean their careers here.

The King's Head Theatre stands on a plot of land that has been used as a public house since 1543, though for most of its history it has been known as the King's Head Tavern, the name itself coming from an old story about Henry VIII supposedly stopping by for a pint on his way to see his mistress. The current building dates back from the 1800's.

In 2010 the Olivier Award-winning UpClose Production became the theatre's resident company, and Adam Spreadbury-Maher was appointed the venue's second artistic director. At the Start of 2015, the third chapter of the King's Head Theatre began as the theatre celebrates her 45th anniversary.

With the departure of OperaUpClose, Artistic Director Adam Spreadbury-Maher chose to stay on, refocusing the venue's artistic policy towards new work and critical theatrical revivals. High quality and accessible classical music remains a part of the program with Charles Court Opera joining the venue as an associate company.

The venue's reputation for nurturing new talents continues, with pioneering trainee director scheme still being run by the King's Head theatre. Recent graduates have gone on to work at the National Theatre, RSC, Lyric Hammersmith and the Globe, plus many others internationally acclaimed companies.


A Dramatic Tale of two Struggling Actors

If you have an interest in performing arts, you may also have sympathy or even empathy for the characters of a new work of fiction: In Younger Men's shoes by novelist Frank Demain, a tale of love, envy, sexual pleasure and harassment, financial worries, hatred, disaster and joy.

David Barstow is a struggling actor who has reached that age where he must soon decide if acting is indeed a viable career for him. To add to his woes, some of his family of their friends find difficulty in accepting his partner and fellow actor, Rebecca Cameron, because of her Caribbean origins.

Uninvited and unwelcome advances offer possible solutions to their financial plight before support and respite come from unlikely sources. The respite proves to be short-lived and David seeks parental support - in vain. Then tragedy overtakes them and it is left to one family member to provide solace and care for Rebecca.

In Younger Men's shoes by Frank Demain is available in digital format from Amazon for less than the price of a latte!