Grind No More: Cultivating Love and Rest in Actor Training


Why does burnout seem to be prevalent amongst actor training students (Appendix B)? And what can be done about it? This research has approached the pervasiveness of burnout in actor training students with the aim of gaining clarity on the ways in which socio-cultural narratives have contributed, and to suggest self-survival strategies for students. To do this, I draw on autoethnographic accounts of burnout in higher education (HE) actor training, as well as the experiences and feedback from nineteen B.A. acting students (who participated in three ‘restshops’ undertaken as part of this research). Aligning student experiences with clinical definitions of burnout, I position burnout as a self-identified experience which may or may not include symptoms of a lack of passion or joy, emotional exhaustion, a lack of motivation and/or a sense of directionlessness. Next, I argue that the pressing issue with student burnout is not that it prevents students from engaging with their training, but that burnout may be a manifestation of students’ disconnection from their emotional intelligence. Two socio-cultural forces are examined for the ways in which they may contribute to this disconnection: scarcity mindset (Holly, 2021) and Human Giver Syndrome (Nagoski & Nagoski, 2020, p.xv). Finally, a self-survival strategy is suggested for students experiencing burnout in HE actor training: the adoption of a love ethic (hooks, 2000, p.88) paired with a practice of ‘pausing’ (Brach, 2003). This strategy is intentionally limited in scope; it is designed as a ‘bandage’ for what appears to be a pressing issue, however future research is needed to investigate institutional responsibility for student burnout.

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I work and live on the unceded lands of the Clackamas people, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla people, known by its colonial name of Portland, OR.

© 2022 Caitlin Lushington

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