Among the many qualities actors need to have is that sense of wonder best described as “child-like.” However, another quality sometimes infects us creative types, and it is quite another thing entirely: namely being “childish.” That one, we want to avoid.
Now keeping that child-like quality is very difficult. We are encouraged rather early on (probably too early on) to curb our imagination and focus on “the real world.” We stifle a very important part of our minds by doing this.
The value of facts over imagination is, in my opinion, overrated. True, facts are the pillars of reality but they can be arranged, rearranged, omitted and distorted to create this version of the truth or that one. Imagination, on the other hand, cannot be categorized or contained. It is not limited by reality or present conditions. Imagination contains the building blocks of future reality! Before we can live in a world of equality and freedom, we must first imagine it. And that imagination must be strong or it will be crushed by the reality of today’s facts.
Okay, enough of my philosophizing and back to the quality of being child-like and its value to the artist. When you were a young child nearly everything was a new experience. You marveled at a column of ants marching in formation carrying food on their backs. The anthill itself generated wonder. Where did it lead? What was life like down in the subterranean ant world? To the ants, we were giant beings who could swipe their orderly column aside and erase their anthill on a whim. Frequently we did.
I remember a small creek that meandered behind the neighborhood playground just at the base of a steep hill covered with trees and rock outcroppings worn visible by erosion. Sometimes the creek would be the Amazon River and the hillside the deepest darkest jungles of Africa. It could also be the Rio Grande or Mississippi. Other times it was an alien planet from “Star Trek” or the planet Mongo from “Flash Gordon” or even the Planet of the Apes. The creek and hillside never really changed appearance in reality and I knew that perfectly
well, but with the use of my imagination, this place became a malleable part of my mind. It was exercise for the brain.
Even I have neglected exercising my creative brain and become bogged down by facts, roadblocks and paying bills. To keep your creativity at peak operating efficiency you’ve got to stop and indulge in some quality make-believe or fantasy or imagination stretching, whatever you want to call it. Go for a walk and tell yourself a story. Go to the back yard and watch a column of ants. Listen to music and create your own video in your mind’s eye. In short, incorporate child-like imagination into your daily life again.
I promise to do the same.
I’m just saying…