The Essence of Performing in the Arts? Be Yourself With Charm and Energy!
In my experience as a performer and coach, I find that many “civilians” or patrons of the performing arts think that all that is required of a performer is memorization and to look good. Successful singers, actors, dancers and musicians definitely make it look easy which is probably why its a struggle to make a living for many of us. Our job is so “easy, anybody can do it.”
Obviously, this is a very simplified example and if you are seriously studying your craft, you know that hours in rehearsal, technical workouts, financial and social sacrifice, competitions, and endless auditions are the behind the scenes reality of performing. But building your skills to turn pro really only levels the playing field. Where natural talent and “brilliance” comes in is when you have the courage to express your unique ideas within the framework of your lyrics, script, score, etc.
With my A-Team of committed emerging professional students I strive to give them the courage to trust their own ideas and not wait for a director or teacher to dictate their choices. These students, all very talented, know on an intellectual level that they must explore the subtext, find a range of emotions and create a back story, choose their objective, etc. All the basics for building a performance. But under pressure sometimes they stall out. They are afraid of not being perfect. I only get frustrated with them when they do nothing. If they try anything with total commitment to their choice and risk being silly or “wrong,” I am their biggest cheerleader. Because it really does take a kind of courage and self awareness not to be in control.
Most of our job is spent auditioning. Only a small percentage of our career is actually spent in front of the camera or on the stage. It is a shock for a lot of young performers coming out of a school’s drama or music dept.
to realize in the real world that having the best “technique” won’t land you a job! You can only create magic moments and create a character that casting teams want to hire by knowing who YOU are and then having the confidence to make adventurous, active and unexpected choices. The successful performers are those who can instill an energy and appeal into their characters. They realize that an audition is not an opportunity to show off their acting expertise but to explore character inventiveness, originality and a desire to spend time with that character/actor. That’s why it always looks easy to an audience!
But don’t give up those classes and rehearsals now that you know the secret! We all need to maintain our chops!