I know a lot of introverted actors. It seems almost contradictory to outsiders--this idea that theatrical people would be introverted--but it's very often true.
I am often inspired by and delighted by the people I work with in the theatre, but I perform for the work, not for the people. Back stage, I am often found quiet and unsocial. I am focused on arranging costumes, props, and preparing myself for the show. When I go out onto the stage, I am bold, gregarious, and fully committed to a connection with the other actors and with the crowd. When I leave, I do my part to get things gathered and cleaned, and then I duck out.
Again, I don't hate people, but I do theatre because I love the work of the theatre. Perhaps it's the way the chaos is organized on the stage. There's a significance in my interactions and a magic in the focused connections.
The same people I shy away from at the show become lifelong friends to me outside of the work, more often than not. Theatre is a great way to discover the qualities of a person. Are they reliable? Do they listen? Can they focus on a problem? Are they a help or a hindrance?
Actors are playing themselves on the stage, just different versions of themselves. The faster an actor recognizes that, the faster they find truth in their portrayals and honesty in their own personal life. The best actors are able to float from beautiful to disgusting without flinching and find all the qualities in between, both on the stage and off the stage. They laugh loudly, tell horrible jokes, say all the wrong things, generally have horrible hygiene, and then roll out of bed and become gorgeous and articulate within a moment's notice.
And they are at peace with that because experience tells us that the best stories require imperfect characters. We float through life, comfortable with our imperfections because that's how we ensure that our story will be more interesting than the next. And the only thing an actor really can't stand is boredom. On or off the stage.
Perhaps there's nothing more boring than talking just for the sake of talking.
At least that's the way it seems to be in theatre. And in real life for that matter.
I have to interject one thing about extroverts. I have no problem with them at all. They find human interaction energizing and inspiring. They are generally the types to come to the theatre to indulge the thoughtful whims of their introverted counterparts. My extroverted friends are my most supportive allies and I wish I was more like them as I grow to understand the important things in life.
On a side note, I don't know that most people fall neatly into one category or another. But the words introvert and extrovert are convenient labels that help me to express myself.
Back to the boring talking stuff. I'm not bored talking to people. I'm bored when a person talks to me, but manages to say nothing during the conversation. Talking just to talk. Despite my general introversion, I feel energized when I participate in a conversation with a friend where ideas are exchanged and developed. I feel inspired when I hear their struggles and their hopes. I am awoken when the people I am talking with are open and honest.
And the best actors are always open and honest. Especially on the stage.
This has been Writing Exercise #2.