When you walk onto the stage, just being stared at while you are around some props isn’t going to do much.
The magic of the stage is invocation of belief. If you believe that you are in a bedroom or you are in a barn, you invoke that energy strong enough to draw the audience into your own imagination.
It doesn’t matter if that stage is in a theatre, in front of cameras, at the front of a conference room or in a crowded bar, if you can believe strongly enough, with enough detail and intensity, moving past noise and distraction, you can get the audience to see what you see, feel what you feel.
When people willingly suspend disbelief they get sucked into the world you and your collaborators have created.
To be a great performer, the power to invoke your beliefs is required. You gotta believe so strongly, so intensely that you can pull people into your moment. To do that means that you have to be able to filter out distractions that might break concentration, either yours or your audience.
For consummate performers, the line between belief and observation is very fine indeed. They learn to hit marks, stay in the light, follow cues, judge audience reaction and manage even more technical details while invoking enough belief to draw their in and capture their audience.
The better the writing the easier it is to invoke the world but it is amazing to me how little content is needed to really draw people in. People respond to poetry much more than depth, to vitality more than virtue, so energy will usually carry the day.
Invoking your belief in the world, acting “as if,” learning the tools of performance can give us power in the world if we choose to own it.
Many people will leave it there, thinking that they are leaving performance to the performers. They believe that they aren’t performers, that they are “natural” and “authentic” which is the opposite of performance.
All humans are performers. The way we present ourselves in the world is always, always constructed, always our own synthesis of the cultural elements that we found in our travels. We may have a unique essence, but how we learn to express that essence in the world depends on the symbols we find and the feedback we get as we are forming our own expression.
All humans invoke their beliefs in the world. We take our understanding of the world and project it out, onto everything around us. Most of the time, though, we don’t haven’t really done the work to understand and edit the beliefs that we are projecting, haven’t done the work to master and polish the choices we make to invoke those beliefs.
Owning our power in the world requires owning our performance. Owning our performance requires moving beyond mimicking the conventional beliefs and techniques we have been handed to find our own personal, powerful voice.
You are always invoking your belief in the world, even as other people are always invoking theirs. The challenge comes when their belief erases your belief rather than complimenting or supporting it. In that case, the noise becomes dreadful, so distracting that you can lose track of your own belief.
Learning to invoke your belief effectively, which first requires being clear, centred and robust in your own knowledge of and trust in your belief, allows better performance.
People see not just the surface, but the belief beneath. It has to come from deep inside to be really transformative and compelling.
When we live in the noise, though, that becomes really hard.