Performing artists generally are a durable lot, muscling through appearances (sometimes many in quick succession) no matter their physical or emotional condition. They get into the zone one way or another, and the best among them deliver consistently. They embody their characters on stage, they channel expertly a composer's intentions, they dance and sing with grace and verve.
The deed is taxing to be sure, and many artists develop certain routines that keep them healthy and fit and ready. The Post and Courier spoke with a few involved in Spoleto Festival USA this year to find out how they prepare to perform.
Mogali Masuku, cast member of Shakespeare’s Globe, is performing in "Twelfth Night," "The Comedy of Errors," and "Pericles" at the Dock Street Theatre. This is her first time in Charleston. Here's a description of her regimen:
I wake up and read my Bible, meditate, pray, reflect on the day ahead or the dream I had (if it’s still lingering). Then I do a solid yoga session. Shower. Then breakfast (which is always what I feel like eating that day). Then I go out to meet the day, or stay in to do some work if it’s that kind of day.
During rehearsals and on show days, my warm up is a close ally. On non-working days she’s a close friend. So I focus on that. It helps steady me for what lies ahead, and of course, prepares me to work. I avoid distractions. That seems vague, but I have to studiously avoid anything that will pull me away from prepping for the show. It’s absorbing and exhausting being an actor. I have to be respectful of that, and also take good care of myself.
Immediately before a show, I warm up, physically and vocally. Then I run my lines. Again. Walk through my character’s journey. Again. Steady myself — focused deep breaths help with that. And I remember how blessed I am to be doing what I was born to do. What I have always wanted to do. I also banter with my cast mates — we break the wall of pre-show tension around us, and then we play.
Lyle Michael is a Goldring arts journalist at Syracuse University.