A Publication of WTVP

Compose Yourself On the Stage of Life

You don’t need a background in the creative arts to get involved and explore a new craft.
by Edith Barnard |

Performance is life! …not in an artificial sense of putting on an act, but in a positive, process sense. Performing offers opportunities to share with friends and colleagues, and even more importantly, to develop your inner self. Even if you’ve never considered yourself outgoing, you can explore something new—such as trying your hand at local theater, public speaking or any other performance art. Connecting with people and learning more about yourself are two significant rewards that performing on the stage of life can bring you.

Lessons In the Limelight
Think back to when you first discovered your love of performing. I learned this lesson early in life. By the age of four, I had memorized Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem, “The Night Before Christmas.” Reciting this holiday classic brought smiles to people’s faces and gave me a rare sense of being able to capture the attention and admiration of adults.

Once you got your first experience in the limelight, how did it affect you? How did you understand yourself in relation to others? My Christmas performance turned into a love of the performing arts. It wasn’t just being the star of the show—I enjoyed a sense of connection, of being part of something larger than myself. I was part of choirs, debate teams, musicals and bands. In turn, we performers became part of the song or stage of life itself. Being in the arts fed my sense of self. And, of course, the affirmation and applause encouraged me to keep going!

Your time on the stage of life never stops if you are intentional about how you present yourself. I enjoy a heightened consciousness when I’m performing, speaking to a community organization, or saying a prayer at my service club. 

Investigate the Performing Arts 
This intentionality can be empowering for you. You don’t need to have a background in the creative arts to get involved and explore a new craft. “Practice” is such a good word in this sense. We don’t need to be experts in our pursuits; we need only practice public speaking, practice singing, practice acting, and there we are, taking part in a tradition from the day we start. 

As a performer, you’ll reap benefits from the start. You’ll encounter new ideas and new people, learn to appreciate things that weren’t on your horizon before, and grow your true inner self. The path itself is the goal, which is an exciting way to look at life. You are composing yourself as you go along, just as a composer creates a melody. By composing yourself as a performer in order to project an emotion or concept to an audience of one or 1,000, you are developing your inner life—creating yourself moment by moment. 

Enjoy investigating the performing arts, and reap the benefits of connection and self-creation. Central Illinois has a flourishing community theater scene where newcomers are needed and welcomed. There are open mics, choirs and opportunities to give talks in workplaces, civic organizations and places of worship. Dip your toe into the group of your choice and see if performing has something to offer your success on the stage of life! PM

Edith Barnard is a professional speaker, success coach and motivational trainer whose experience in theater, vocal coaching and speaking can help you be the speaker you want to be. Visit or call (309) 922-9058.