Maria Alyokhina is a core member of the Russian political punk collective Pussy Riot. She served almost two years in a harsh Russian prison for hooliganism motivated religious hatred when she performed a song inside Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.
She recently read an essay on BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show and I thought I would share some of it with you. Although it’s about ‘what makes us human’, it’s a powerful reminder of the role of mistakes and failure in living a successful life and having a successful acting career.
“The life of a person starts with a birth and ends with death. If you just obey the rules and don’t ask questions. If you deny yourself the will to change. Are you sure that you are still alive? If you stop trying, searching, and fighting - then you’re set on automatic control.
If machine makes a mistake, then it’s broken. But humans learn about life through their mistakes. The less mistakes you make in life, the less you know about it. Somewhere in between those mistakes, the future is hiding. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, otherwise you’ll never know for sure, if your finger doesn’t bleed, that the spikes of cactus can cause pain.
Inertia, silence and apathy are dead ends. The phrase “I don’t mind” is a dead end. I won’t vote, my voice doesn’t count for anything anyway. I won’t go to the demonstration. I won’t leave my job, I’m afraid. I will walk past, I won’t interfere in someone else’s affairs. Your fear whispers to you all of those things.
But if you obey, then you’ve lost. It’s always possible to try again. But only if you overcome your fear.
Taking responsibility for your actions, this is freedom. You can’t demand attention to your voice, if you are silent. We are determined by our actions. You don’t have anything to write about your life in a world with soft walls. To be human is to act, to play up, to shake up your rights, ask questions, react. You shouldn’t wait for the miracles from others. As someone else could benefit from your indifference…"
To You The Best
Mark Westbrook is the Studio Director at Acting Coach Scotland