Emotional Wellness and the Stage
Teens have very full lives with competing responsibilities. Positive emotional framing encouraging resiliency goes a long way toward promoting emotional success. And in rehearsal and the performance spotlights, it can set a tone that can propel a teen forward with balance, self-awareness, internal motivation, and confidence. This tone affects how we think, handle stress, relate to others, our thought patterns, and much more! We especially need to respect that teens have brilliant brains that are still developing. The good? Teens thrive on challenge and engaging in creative activities like acting, which can strengthen healthy patterning and help the brain mature.
Much of that development is tied to social experiences in adolescence. And the Performing Arts are the definition of social, as we interact onstage. So it is VERY important that teens develop healthy acting skills that support their emotional wellness. We should never be “playing” for just one role or one show…. but for life! This need to protect the psyche and development is imperative until the mid to late twenties (when the prefrontal cortex is responsible for skills like planning, and healthy decision-making). So we want to nurture strong peer relationships, and social experiences. Seek out approaches that give maximum good and limit unnecessary strain. I always say, “Push yourself, but do not push yourself over”.
Because of this progressive development, it is essential to recognize possible emotional triggers (both positive and negative) and practice effective coping techniques that help teens use stress management. When you work with emotions and mental processes on stage for a character, you need to frame the material in a way that allows you to develop healthy awareness and separation from your core personality. Promoting overall well-being for teens means working consciously to develop executive functioning and project management skills, and “build in a buffer” that limits anxiety and feeling overwhelmed. This encourages emotional wellness as teens triumph and move from being overwhelmed by the plethora of responsibilities that demand their attention, to making conscious choices on balancing their time and resources to succeed best. And know, it is all about “Progress, not Perfection”!
A challenge to Percolate – Building in a Buffer!
Take a project for stage or school and build a timeline. Put in extra lead time in case of boredom, ennui, other projects, apathy, or crisis,
Choose a character from a movie or a monologue that is unlike you. Then, think how you are different than that character and how you might be similar with movement and your reactions.
~ Felicia Pfluger, Pfluger Empathy Movement Method, © 2023