In this three part series, Terry Knickerbocker discusses the role of travel in his life and why it’s so important for actors to explore the world.
When did you first begin traveling?
I was very fortunate because my parents liked to travel, even if traveling meant going to Maine where they had a summerhouse. But I also went to London with them a few times when I was about 10 or 11 and we took some cruises. One particular stop we made on a cruise left an indelible impression on me as a kid – Haiti.
Haiti has a complicated history, culturally and politically, and at the time it was ruled by a dictatorship. I remember this choking sensation of extreme poverty. They usually try and keep tourists away from the nitty gritty but I remember seeing these oranges in the dirt – muddy, dirty oranges.
Then when I grew up and finished my training with Bill Esper, the first thing I did was get a EuroRail Pass and go all over Europe. Amsterdam, Paris, Ireland, Italy, as well as some places in Switzerland, and Germany.
Overall, what did you gain from these travel experiences?
The people you meet when you travel – it really broadens your horizon and breaks tight patterns. I’m big on breaking patterns, trying new things, and neuroplasticity. I can’t think of a better opportunity to get neuroplasticity going than by exploring another culture through travel and just shaking up your routine.
How can this neuroplasticity be useful for the actor?
As actors our main job is to be storytellers. To live out stories, other people’s stories. I find that travel has a disrupting quality on everyday life. Like how we get coffee from the same place every day and take the same train and see the same people. When we disrupt that it starts to make us a part of the story in a better way. So I have a lot of stories from childhood. People I’ve met. Encounters I’ve had. These have been teaching lessons for the flexibility that we need in life. These are really strong experiences. And I think I get more stories when I travel than I do in my everyday life. It’s a concentrated opportunity to grow and learn if you’re open to it.
The more off the beaten path you get the better. A 5 star hotel in Bali isn’t the same as experiencing Bali.