Playing Full Out
There are moments in time that touch us so deeply that they reinforce the essence of what it means to be human. Yesterday I had the privilege of seeing Once, the musical, on Broadway and that was how I felt. It was glorious. I had seen the indie film years ago, and have been a Glen Hansard groupie ever since. My husband and I got to see their tour in Austin years ago and it was an unforgettable experience. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Broadway production. I knew that it had raked in 8 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, but I had assumed it was just because the music was so spectacular. I hadn’t anticipated that they would transform the work, leveraging the intimacy that only live theatre can bring, to create an entirely different experience. It was breathtaking.
I’ve been to many a Wednesday matinee before, and have done them myself, so I knew the danger in spending top dollar for a 2pm show – especially a show that has been running for awhile, as Once has been. I expected a “matinee-performance”, the warm-up for the evening’s packed house. Instead, the actors gave us everything they had and more. From the moment they stepped on stage we were swept away. The entire cast acts, sings, dances, and they all play multiple instruments – never taking a break – the entire ensemble is on stage from beginning to end. Fully committed. Playing full-out the entire time.
One of the things I loved the most about being in the theatre is that sense of communal commitment. We were all in it together 100%. For actors, it’s not just the energy they put out that makes the difference. Not just their time. Not just their focus. It’s their heart. They fully commit with their hearts. They’re all-in.
In the acting world to not fully commit everything you’ve got – your energy, time, focus, and heart – guarantees a poor performance. You can spot an actor who is holding back in an instant. They read false. They’re uninteresting, thus typically unemployed. In a world in which only 2% of actors make a living wage – to not commit means to not make a living. The cost for not committing is too high. Imagine if everyone in the corporate world were to invest as much of themselves at work.
So often we hold back, thinking we’re saving ourselves for something else. Something better. Reserving our energy. But I tend to think commitment is a renewable resource. When you fully invest yourself, energy comes back to you. It’s the law of reciprocity.
The world of the theatre and the corporate world are really not that different. In the end, it’s all about getting the best performance. I would argue, that nothing great can happen unless all the players involved are fully committed. Not just with their energy, their time, and their focus – but also with their hearts. And that takes courage. It takes courage to be all in.
Truth time. Are you playing full-out?
©OnStage Leadership, 2013
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