Sunday, November 15, 2009


I was teaching a workshop this weekend at the NETC conference in Sturbridge and we discussed what kind of support a young actor needs to sustain the ruthless rhythm of rehearsals until midnight while going to school full time and getting up early to catch the 7 am school bus. No time to pack lunch or dinner, not enough sleep, not enough rest... sounds familiar? All of this packed with the ever-flying emotions of being in a show, new friends, pressure, expectations, tension, stress...and homework...
Leading to sure burnout and emotional distress when all of it is over...

So what can you do?

The four pillar of health are Nutrition, Sleep, Exercise and Self Love.
Without one of these pillars, your whole foundation will collapse and your house fall down...

NUTRITION: Patti will soon write more on nutrition for rehearsals but if you dont' have the time to pack lunch or dinner, you can always get the 'grab and go' drinkable meal supplements. They are filled with vitamins and will be better than pizzas!. Watch the sugar content, use the natural ones, and choose the ones that do not have caffeine. You can get a 6 pack for your week of nightly rehearsals ahead of time.. add a banana, a granola bar.. and it can replace (for a few days) a healthy meal and will not take room in your school backpack.

Drink plenty of fluids, (water, not sodas!) and get a good breakfast to start your day.

SLEEP: you need sleep! 8 hours... if you cannot get it in one shot, try cat naps, and short relaxations in your day (5 minutes each) they can refuel your energy even if your night is too short. Catch up on sleep when you can...

EXERCISE: it is important to daily fit at least a short walk outside, a yoga stretch, a zumba dance, a running or bicycle ride... whatever is quick and easy. Oxygen is important when you spend your time in a rehearsal room. So bunddle up and go out! You will feel refreshed, revitalized and you will act better...

SELF-LOVE: When you put yourself on the line everyday by being onstage and performing in front of people, it is important to spend time to appreciate yourself. Your body (and soul) is the instrument you play. CARE for it with love and appreciation, as if you were the Steinway or the Stradivarius.. YOU ARE THE WORK OF ART, YOU BECOME THE WORK OF ART..
So dare to be introvert: you might need time alone, to recharge, you might need to write in a journal, listen to music you love, or take a long bath. You might need to play with your pet, take a walk, read a book... do what feels good as long as it is healthy.
You will recharge your energy and feel more confident later on stage...

To go further read the book A BALANCING ACT

Emmanuelle Chaulet,
RP III, acting coach, energy awareness counselor

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


by Patti McCabe, Certified Holistic Health Counselor

I have worked as a Production Stage Manager for a long time, and I know all too well the challenges we face in the theater industry (onstage and backstage) with eating on the run and trying to keep up our energy levels through long days of auditions, rehearsals, and performances. The trouble we get into is that we are often looking to artificial sources of energy to keep us going through the day. Caffeine, sugar, junk food, processed foods. These all give us something in the moment, but how long does it take for the rush to wear off and leave you craving for that next fix? And if we know this to be a problem, how do we break the cycle?

The first step is to start to understand the benefits of whole foods. Most people have heard about the concept of simple vs. complex carbohydrates, but they can’t really describe the difference. Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap in recent years, but the truth is not all carbs are created equal.

Simple carbohydrates have short chains of sugar that break down quickly in the body. Your body works overtime trying to burn up this extra sugar it doesn’t need. This is what causes that all too familiar sugar rush, but once it’s burned up we are left to simply crash. Even worse, the excess sugar gets stored as fat. Simple carbs include processed foods, white flours and breads, cakes, cookies, etc.

Complex carbohydrates have long chains of sugar that are bound within the food’s fiber. The sugar releases more slowly into your blood stream, giving you sustained energy and leaving you feeling full longer. Complex carbs are those found in nature like vegetables and whole grains.

So let’s start with whole grains, which are an amazing source of essential enzymes, vitamins B and E, iron, and dietary fiber. They are also cheap (especially if you purchase from the bulk section of your grocery store) and keep very well in the fridge to have on hand for a variety of delicious, inexpensive, quick to prepare meals. All things I know are important to us when working on a budget and always on the run!

A personal favorite is Quinoa, which is one of the fastest cooking and healthiest of all the grains. It contains all eight amino acids, making it a complete protein. There are many amazing ways to prepare quinoa. I love starting the day with a healthy, hearty breakfast that I know will keep me full and energized for a long time. Try trading in this recipe for your usual sugary cereal or donuts and feel the difference!

Warm Quinoa Breakfast Cereal
(Adapted from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition)

Yields 1-2 servings

1 cup pre-cooked quinoa
1/2-3/4 cup milk or dairy alternative (depending on the consistency you like)
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup golden raisins (or other dried fruit)
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (or other nuts/seeds)

• Place prepared or leftover quinoa in a sauce pan.
• Add milk, honey, cinnamon and raisins.
• Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until the cereal thickens slightly.
• Garnish with nuts or seeds

Patti McCabe is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor who specializes in working with the performing arts community. She received her training at the Institute for Integrative NutritioLinkn in New York City and is accredited through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. She leads workshops on health and nutrition, and offers both individual and group counseling services in person and by phone. More information at and