Saturday, May 22, 2010

How Flexible Are You?

Saturday musings...

One of my students,  Barrie Kreinik and I had this interesting conversation last week...She is a bright light and an old soul, and it got me thinking...thus this blog entry!

Is there strength is flexibility? Or is there strength in rigidity?

As an actor/singer/performer/artist this is crucial in process.  Recognizing what true flexibility is, as it relates to process, is what is most important.

Flexibility doesn't mean you are a push-over.  It doesn't mean you are a pleaser.  It doesn't mean no backbone or conviction.

Flexibility allows for change and adjustment.  Flexibility allows for questions,  discussion and compromise.  Flexibility allows for possibility and inclusion.  Flexibility allows for discovery and creation.

Whether we are discovering process by ourselves, with a teacher, in a rehearsal with other artists/performers,  with a conductor or a coach or a direction - how flexible are we?

Rigidity often is borne out of fear.  Flexibility is developed from security in one's own ability to discover.

Knowing one's boundaries is not rigidity.  Boundaries are necessary to create the flexibility between.  Standing up for those boundaries allows the process to become flexible and possibilities to be discovered!  Imagine what happens when we embrace, question, and take risks in order to uncover and discover possibilities in process!!!

Flexible artists are not pushovers.  They actually hold the most power in the room.  Why?  Because flexible equals strength.  The ability to be flexible requires overview and detail.  It allows for the ability to see beyond oneself.

Flexible artists are not pleasers.  Flexibility is about discovering the best in oneself and those around you to infuse the process with truth and reality.

Flexible artists take their craft seriously, but know how to laugh at themselves!

Flexible artists can make a mistake.

Flexible artists can make a compromise.

Flexible artists recognize when the process is being damaged.

Flexible artists are not about their own ego, but rather, about the process and the outcome of that process.

Flexible artists don't walk in with their coat on their shoulders and DEMAND.   Rather, flexible artists are all-inclusive, and CHALLENGE to DISCOVER.

Flexible artists are truly the POWER in a room.  They prove by their DOING that those who are too rigid, are too narcissistic, are too insecure, are too pleasing, are too overbearing, are too (fill in the blank) are faux-power and are actually not in control at all.

The flexibility of an artist allows for truth of process.

Learning this flexibility takes trust.  It takes inspiration.  It takes work. It takes discipline.  It takes guts.

Walking into the room and saying "I am not willing to do this..." creates a rigid and closed process that will lack possibility.

Walking into the room saying "I am willing..." creates room and space for possibility!

So how flexible are you?  What is holding you back?

Lack of craft, discipline, truth can often cause one to become inflexible.  We often hide behind the rigidity, ego, emotional outbursts, shyness, or even "look at me"-ness, to try to deflect a sense of inadequacy we feel in our process.

Our flexibility in the room allows for an exclusive  "inclusivity" for process, conversation, discussion, debate  and discovery.

Flexibility is power.

With flexibility,  there are no such things as mistakes -   Just choices.  No apologies.

Choice and decision and follow through.

The only way to truly discover you have choice, is to stay flexible enough to develop craft and discipline in order to know what those choices could be.

Embrace the room and the flexibility of YOU.  The power is there.


  1. Ah Susan, how true this was, and indeed how timely. I was having a little dark night of the soul, and along came your post to reassure me that it's all normal, and that self-searching and questioning is not only par for the course but actually required for what we do.

    I was reacting to a director asking me to abandon all my previous thoughts re a particular role, and try something radically different. First thoughts? God. She hates what I'm doing so far; how can I get out of that? Second thoughts? Yes. She can see that I have more to offer but maybe need a little help freeing it.

    Still and all, oops I appear to have rambled on for ages; sorry! However this is wonderful stuff, and I urge everyone to really think about this. It's more important than most of us believe.

  2. Thanks for writing this, Susan! I think the balance of flexibility lies in who you decide to compromise with and what on...but ultimately, in a rehearsal room at least, the answer to a director's request should always be "I'll try it" -- unless you're being asked to do something that undermines your dignity or seriously violates the collaborative process. Then there's room for negotiation, for drawing lines. I've had a few situations where I've put my foot down, but only when I didn't trust that the person giving me direction had my or the work's best interest in mind -- which is a difficult situation to be in all around.

    Bottom line: flexibility in service to the work creates possibility. Rigidity for reasons of fear or ego only creates obstacles.

  3. Hi Susan. I agree with what you have to say. Your past blogs confirm my way of thinking. It's just nice to read it as well. Did not know we had something in commom. So happy I dicovered your blog..........Tracey(Isabelle)

  4. Hi Susan, this is so very true. And very well said.