I’m not an expert skater so it’s not on my list of special skills. I do enjoy getting on the ice once in a while, and a couple of days ago I took my daughter to the Pettit National Ice Center in suburban Milwaukee. While skating for a couple of hours, I discovered the coolest spot on the ice for actors.
Let me set this up properly. Olympians train at this site. It features two hockey rinks side by side surrounded by a large ice oval, which is surrounded by a running track. Real athletes train, practice, and play here, and then there are those of us who just show up for a little recreation time.
My daughter wore her brand new adjustable figure skates, purchased that day, and I got rental hockey skates there. Neither one of us had skated in months and this was our first time on this particular ice. We put on our skates, walked up from the basement level to the ground floor and cautiously stepped onto the ice, the first ring colored green underneath.
The first few trips around took some time but soon we both felt comfortable to really get going. That’s when I spotted the coolest spot on the ice. It’s the place where everyone first gets on it.
It doesn’t matter which rink you’re at next for public skating. Take a look at the spot where people actually go from rubber mat or carpet to ice. You’ll see some interesting things occurring.
Look at the faces and the body language. Gauge the comfort level. Predict their skill level. Even before they get on the ice, they will reveal how they feel about what’s happening and give an indication about what you might see next.
You’ll see some people walk slowly and step onto the ice with great caution; some will be super eager to start skating and swiftly rush past the others. Keep an eye on someone all the way through the process to get a full sense of it. You don’t need to spend more than a few minutes to get a great understanding of human behavior in the context of transitions.
Transitions in life are important to acknowledge. Think of it like this: I am here right now, but next I am going there. It doesn’t have to be a physical transition. It could be a simple transition from one way of thinking to another. If you tend to blow right past those moments, I encourage you to begin taking time to recognize how many transitions you experience in a given day, what changes for you in each one of them, and what is involved in effectively making them happen.
Now let’s bring it back to acting. Imagine the coolest spot is right inside the doorway of the audition room. It’s a place of great transition. A place where the casting director first sees you and has a sense of anticipation about what you will deliver in that room before you leave.
When you get your next (or first) audition, take a moment to think about what that transition will look like for you. Even if the whole scenario lasts less than 30 seconds, that’s plenty of time to put it to good use to create what will serve as the starting point of your audition, before you hit your mark, slate, and perform.
I’m not saying you need to rehearse for the transition. Just remember that one exists in physical space and in your head space. Simply let it serve as a helpful beat to propel you from your quiet time in the waiting room to your active time in the audition room.