Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go. — T.S. Eliot
I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it. — Pablo Picasso
Discovery, exploration, and art-making, in general, require that artists take risks to make progress in their art. The artist has to push past their current understanding and comfort zone into discomfort and the unknown. The key is to determine which risks are good and which are not when it comes to working on the stage.
The Right Time & The Right Place
Especially at the start here start your risk-taking in a place and with people where you feel safe. The rehearsal room or classroom should be that place. If not find your safe place. By definition, not all risks will turn out well. You want to be with people who will applaud your risk-taking and not punish you for it as you start to build your confidence in allowing yourself to take risks.
As a performer, the start of the personal practice and group rehearsal process is the best place to start taking big risks. Over time we want to reduce the size of the risks being taken so that by the time we get to performance 95% of the performance will be reliably the same night after night.
We want to take deliberate artistic risks. Take the time to go through this process we have been exploring here on Day 1 & Day 2. If we just start jumping into taking risks without and inspiration, goal, or purpose it becomes an exercise of just practicing taking risks. This might serve a function but artistically give your risk taking a purpose.
Be the person that creates a safe place for others. Respect and applaud risk-taking. Don’t make fun of, belittle, or laugh at someone who is taking a risk. If appropriate for the risk do laugh together. Most risks if done in a safe place shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Attempt your risk-taking in the spirit of exploration and fun.
Are you breaking the law or going to hurt someone?
It’s not a good risk if there are significant chances of harming yourself or causing harm to others. It’s not a good risk if you are breaking the law. It is not a good risk if you are damaging other’s property without their direct permission. Use common sense. If you don’t have any common sense bring someone else along with you that does and listen to them.
- Overthink it. If it is safe, legal, and not disrupting someone else’s work then do it. It only gets harder to take a risk the more deliberate and hesitate. Trust your subconscious, body, and instincts.
- Judge it in the moment. But away the judges that sit on your shoulder. Commit to taking the risk 100% then go for it without holding back or judging it at the moment. You can evaluate its success afterward.
- Judge it by inaccurate feedback. You are taking a risk. By default, it should be uncomfortable and potentially awkward to you the first time you do it. Don’t evaluate the success of your risk by this internal feedback. Video your experiments so you can go back and watch it. Compare your risk-taking to what you normally do. If there is progress then it is a good risk. Try it in front of trusted colleagues or a teacher who can give you productive feedback.
- Don’t practice. Good risk-taking is a skill. Learn from your mistakes and keep practicing!