I know I am not writing in a vacuum. I know there are readers out there and that those readers are typically artists, but before that they are human beings. I know this. And so while there are a million and one plays in performance that I can (and will) talk about- there is a message that I would like to reach the ears, or should I say the eyes of these fellow artists.
The message is mostly a reminder. It is a reminder that I found myself needing quite badly and have been lucky enough to find here in a community that is fully enveloped in the arts. At the risk of being trite is one that I would like to share with the community here.
You have to be your biggest fan. I suppose the title may have given it away.
But it is so heartbreakingly and wonderfully true. I had the pleasure and honor of sitting in on auditions at Boston University’s School of Theater for the next quarter of casting and was floored at the amount of talent I saw in the room. I learned so much from the experience and saw a lot of really great material.
What I also saw is that what put the actor at the most disadvantage was not going over time or forgetting their playwright’s name. It was the nerves. The way they were so uneasily unmanned by the situation. How quickly they lost faith it what they were doing, and that they had the capability of doing it. I sometimes lost the actor’s personality as they delivered their speech in an almost robotic fashion and went straight into their monologue, eager to get the process over with.
Now to be frank, I also find the auditioning process to be fatally flawed. I believe actors are at their best when they are comfortable, and that those of us in the audition room have the power to make that happen. Something as simple as a hello, a handshake, a question about how their day has been could help to diffuse a bit of tension always pervasive in the room. Unfortunately that does not always happen. Which is why we have to be our biggest advocates, our loudest supporters, pat our own backs.
Visual artist Barney Darvey wrote an article to visual artists about the power of believing in yourself. However his opening statements are universally true in all art forms “I’ve said it many times before, if the fire in your belly is real, then it’s likely art chose you as much as you chose it.”
Fellow artists, the world will turn its back to us or sometimes even worse, it may feel like it is pushing with all its might against us, but we were called to art and art needs us just as much as we need it. It may come to us in different ways then what we had originally envisioned, but I do believe that with the right self-talk we are all smart, creative and clever enough to make our own opportunities, and to shape and change the world with the messages we have to offer.