Are you working on intensely emotional or difficult material right now? Then you know that the warm up and cool down periods are crucial parts of that work. I’m not talking about the physical warm up-though that should also be a part of your artistic day, I mean the moments you take to focus, to get in the “zone”, the “flow”, the “artistic state”.
Similarly, I find it helpful to cool down from particularly hot pieces by taking a moment to come back to my own reality through gratitude and mindfulness; we really have to shed the anxiety, fear, and/or trauma we have hosted in our bodies for the sake of storytelling if we want healthy relationships offstage.
Personally, I take about 10-15 minutes (or more) on either side of my working period, put on my over-ear headphones and listen to one of the pieces below to get into and out of my “flow”. Here are three of my go-tos (and a BONUS):
1.) Inside the Actors Studio Suite, by Angelo Badalamenti
Everyone who enjoys watching James Lipton’s “Inside the Actors Studio” knows the first few seconds of this suite, but the full ten minutes of music is an easy, peaceful, and relaxing pallet cleanser. You may even feel extra actor-y for listening.
2.) Out of Africa Suite, by John Barry
This is the first piece of music I ever obsessed over. I have strong aural memories of hearing this during family road trips and observing my father studying or writing with this soundtrack playing on my pink portable cassette player next to him on the floor. When I grew old enough to appreciate good acting I became doubly obsessed with Meryl Streep’s performance, so when I listen to the Out of Africa Suite today I am immediately inspired to do important work and remember the safe feelings of my creative temperament.
3.) Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2, C Minor
This is the Advanced Category. If you have “all the feelings” you will not find a more empathetic composer than Sergey Rachmaninov. The profound suspense in this piece, played masterfully here by Lang Lang is an immersive warm-up and cathartic cool-down. My mother would sometimes play this piece on our home piano on Sunday mornings. I would lay in bed listening, terrified and hypnotised. It was brilliant.
Bonus: I rather frequently use guided meditation to calm my mind before or after my theater work, hyper-emotional or not. I have subscribed to the Meditation Oasis Podcast for many years, and I cannot recommend this podcast enough.
Do you have any rituals that are particularly helpful for getting into the creative state, or “the zone”? Share!
Give a listen to some of these today and let me know what you think!