They say before you make judgement, that you should walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. This is a mantra that I use for life, but also my development as an actor.buy recently I’ve been wondering about whether the shoes and clothes that I wear can help me develop as a person, also.
As well as being an actor, I have spent my non-stage career delivering customer service. In this profession, you need to accept that people are not always at their best, when they are talking to you, going to the theatre is stressful and what they say to you probably has very little to do with you personally. Imagine, in whatever sector you work in, that you have got up and your young child has had a restless night, you have spilt your cereal on your freshly laundered shirt, the car wouldn’t start so you got the bus, where several elderly people got on (and being the good citizen that you are) you gave up your seat. You got to work a little flustered from the journey and you have been having IT issues which have meant that you missed an important deadline. You missed lunch and worked late to make up for it, and then had to get the tube in rush hour into Central London so that you arrived in time for your reservation. The person on the escalator has 3 suitcases balanced on top of each other and you can’t pass them. You get to your destination and you are late, the show has started/ your table is lost/ you missed your flight! You are not in a sane state of mind, you are not thinking straight.
As someone striving to deliver the best customer service possible, I need to walk in this person shoes and show a level of understanding. Trust me when I say that the sentence “well you should have been in time” is not going to go down too well! We have to accept that I this person’s shoes, they have had a crap day, and this is just another thing that has gone wrong. So whilst the news is not great, you have to understand and assist them into improving their shoddy day.
I’m tackling a character, as an actor, you would be surprised at how important it is for you to walk in the shoes of theta character. It’s not a method acting thing, but that character can begin to come alive once the shoes have been worn. The thing is, that footwear tells a lot about the wearer… Did they shine them, are they trying to impress, have they taken these out for a special occasion, is this their only pair????? The questions go on. But these questions subconsciously inform the way that you walk and in turn your posture, gestures and speaking voice. Walking in the shoes of a character is very telling, and provides us with a lot of clues as an actor.
My advice… Try some out, walk around and do it outside and inside, in public and at home. It will begin to work its magic!
So what do your shoes say about you?
Well what do you want them to say? It doesn’t matter how snappily you dress if it’s not you. I like to wear shoes that are a bit different and sharp, but I also treasure comfort above everything else. I have personality to boot, but I can also be really shy in new surroundings and around new people – so for me my choice of footwear allows me to show a bit of personality, whilst also feeling at ease. There is something very satisfying about the sound that a decent shoe heel makes on the ground! It also helps to right some of my “tall man” posture issues!
I am also the kind of person that hates it when my new white trainers look worn, so I like a shoe that will “age well” and not just look decrepit is a must.
Let me know what your shoes say about you!
Have a great week.