Excerpt from “The Heart of the Artist” by Rory Noland, found on pages 64-65
“First of all, stay focused on ministering to people, as opposed to gratifying yourself artistically. Ministry is not about us and our wonderful talents. It’s about people. It’s all about serving others. First Peter 4:10 says, “Each one of us should use whatever gift he has received to serve others.” If you’re trying to gratify yourself artistically and forget all about ministering to people, it will be a very empty experience. We artists spend so much time on technique and style that we often lose sight of the people we’re trying to reach. [...] We need to come to a meeting, to a rehearsal, or to a service ready and willing to serve. Instead of always asking, “What’s in it for me?” or “What can I get out of this?” we need to ask, “How can I serve? What can I give?”
My mentor and friend read this passage during an arts-retreat-planning meeting, and it brought me to tears. Suddenly, I realized why I had become so empty while at Villanova and why acting turned from something so full to something so empty. When I was at Eastern University, we were trained not only in technique, but also in serving our audience. Acting was not about ourselves, but about the community and the communal experience—not just between actors, but especially between the actor and the audience. At Villanova University, acting was no longer about serving, but about mastering my own technique. It became so focused inwards, about self, and it left me completely empty. There was virtually no community of actors taking care of each other. I don’t think anyone at Villanova would want to hear this or necessarily promote this style, but even if it’s not what their mission is, it is still evident from their actions. Professional and academic acting, from what I witnessed, is so much about SELF. No wonder I couldn’t see where my acting fit into the kingdom of God; while at Villanova, there was nothing kingdom about it.
This isn’t to say I am about to jump back into theatre, but it just clicked in my mind and made sense. Whatever gift we have, it is meant to be given and not kept to ourselves.