I have spoken previously about the extra/intraversion of actors. In my experience, by  enlarge actors are introverted. They are that shy kid that sat in the back of the class (whether it was a drama class or not) and grew ever anxious at the thought of having to perform in ‘improv’ games. They loved being in the class because their thirst for knowledge, particularly drama, was insatiable. Unfortunately though, it was their introversion that was holding them back, all the while ignorant of the fact that their introversion was ultimately their greatest strength, almost as strong as their ability to communicate and persuade.

It is the shy kids who are easy to forget. They can be ushered into the corner by the teacher/director or the other actors/students and overlooked because they generally won’t complain. They will accept the status quo because they won’t want to rock the boat. Their creative skills enable them to show acceptance and contrition when faced with missing out on opportunities. At least they weren’t asked to do an improvisation and so were able to keep their anxiety under control.

Don’t worry though. This ‘sitting in the back’, might portray loneliness, but it should never be misconstrued as low self-esteem. Introverts know they are capable, know they can do things and do them very well – (even though they are often racked with self-doubt – how’s that for an oxymoron!). Introverts are definitely not fragile but in the same breath crave assurance in their skills and abilities. Again, this generally manifests itself in the adulation they receive through performance.

The introvert will spent time with themselves (the time when they feel the most at ease) and ruminate on being passed over and wishing to themselves that perhaps if only they pushed themselves forward, their true skills as a performer would’ve been noticed. Performing is their happy place. The place where they get the chance to be someone they are not. The place where they can do things that their true self would never try. This is where they truly excel. Psychologically, it is home.

Actors portray characters. When an introverted actor immerses themselves into another person/character’s mind and psyche, the introverted actor’s anxiety vanishes. Even from the actor’s own point of view it’s as though they could never even contemplate anxiety. The reason? They become the character. They walk amongst us. We walk amongst you. We are many and we have more facets than a princess cut diamond could ever hope to display.

The next time you see a performer and you ask them after their show, how long have they been an actor, don’t be surprised if they reply with ‘all my life’. The introverted actor is a true chameleon. A true shape-shifter. Someone others should only ever underestimate at their own peril. A person that others may never truly discover who that person’s true self really is.

Introversion is a formidable trait. To introverts, silence is golden, but when and introvert speaks take the time to listen.

Shane Mallory

Shane is a performer, emcee, host, communicator, creative, mentor and innovative theatre director. He lives in Ipswich, Queensland with his wife Natalie, who are almost 'empty nesters' providing a home for their two daughters' dog and two cats.

1 Comment

Kyle · November 1, 2016 at 10:00 am

Yes. Absolutely all of it! Damn Shane!

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