"In every moment you can choose between Love and Fear."
Arabella has stepped out of the studio to pass on her thoughts and advice for actors.
Arabella Gibbins has taught in some of Britains most acclaimed acting institutions. She has a boundless passion for the art of acting and helping people discover their voices. She's not only brilliant at what she does but she's also, a truly lovely human being. She's been kind enough to take some time out to share her thoughts, insights and advice for actors.
I’m a voice coach, performer and huge fan of humans.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I trained as an actor first, and then did my MFA in Voice Studies at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. That was where I realised that I could have the best job in the world – helping people explore the full range and power of their voice!
How did you turn that first job into a career?
I’d been teaching singing for years before I started at Central, and had always been passionate about pedagogy, which is the theory of teaching. Rather than thinking of teaching as something you do to someone, I see the learning as happening inside the student or client: this means that I can guide and facilitate, but the student is the one who makes the connections and experiences the ‘aha’ moment. No good ever comes from trying to force anything.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? What keeps driving you forward?
There are so many things about my job that I love. The most rewarding part is seeing positive change happen, often right in front of my eyes, and sometimes very quickly. Witnessing people grow, take risks, conquer fears, become even more themselves, that’s very exciting and humbling to be a part of.
Career highlight thus far?
Singing ‘Seven Nation Army’ for David Beckham dressed as a bearded lady.
Delivering a Singing workshop for 350 road construction workers at the NEC in Birmingham – that they hadn’t signed up for (!)
Can you tell us about a difficultly you’ve faced in your career and how you managed to overcome it both literally and mentally?
It was a huge challenge moving everything online during 2020. Up until that point I’d relied on being in the same physical space with my students and clients. Many of my go-to exercises involved partner work, whole-body listening, touch, laughter, and a shared acoustic space. I didn’t know how to make magic happen over Zoom and, like many people at the time, I felt frustrated and drained. Navigating faulty internet connections, students working in tiny spaces, and a growing sense of screen fatigue was difficult for everyone.
It was after a particularly full day of Zoom lessons that I flopped on the sofa, full of adrenaline and exhausted. I was probably about to launch into a full-on moanathon when my partner interrupted with 'yes, and what are you grateful for?’ I was probably rather dismissive of the question in the moment, but it was something of a turning point! Later on that night I got out my notepad and wrote down 3 things I was grateful for that day. And I felt a bit less angry. After that I started a gratitude journal, so my day began and ended acknowledging ways in which I was fortunate, and all the things I already had. It was around the same time that I stopped trying to recreate my studio-lessons online, and instead rewrote my lesson plans, gave the students regular breaks and in lots of ways softened my approach. I finally started practicing what I teach – listen to your body, slow down, be grateful for what you have.
What have your successes and failures taught you?
This Too Shall Pass.
What would you say has made you so successful in your career?
When you look for the best in someone and you believe in them, extraordinary things can happen. I am successful when something I do or say helps someone make a connection.
If you could speak to your younger self at the start of your career, what advice would you give them?
In every moment you can choose between Love and Fear, and it’s this choice that either frees or imprisons you.
Love’s not always soft and fluffy, and it’s often not the easy option. Keep choosing Love and the rest will take care of itself.
What would be your greatest piece of advice to actors?
Find a regular practice that anchors you – for when times are great and you’re on a roll, and for when things are tough. Something that nourishes the body, and centres the mind, will serve you very well.
What would be your advice to actors trying to make an introduction to yourself or others in your field?
Always reach out – I am unlikely to get you a job unfortunately, but I will happily help you on your path if I can!
How can actors get in touch with you or find out more
about you or what you do?
Arabella is sharing her teaching gifts with Both Feet Actors this summer
by coaching with Steph on The Accent Retreat - For Actors.