Everyone has a dream. Chances are, simply from the fact that you’re here and reading this blog, you have a dream that involves the theatre. Whether it be performing, backstage, design, composition, writing, make-up or any number of theatrical roles; the dream that you have is like a blazing fire that refuses to be put out. It propels you forward, into exciting and nerve-wracking situations, daring you to rise time and again against the challenges that are put in front of you. You revel in your successes and damn the rejections you face, only to turn around and risk everything you have to run for the dream all over again.
First of all, allow me to applaud you.
If this is you, welcome to the club; a club of passionate, determined and talented people who are constantly trying to make a life out of what they truly believe in.
And, as you already know, it’s not an easy life to lead. In fact, there are times when being a creative artist is like some weird curse. You want to throw it all in, and be “normal” – whatever normal is for you. You want to take the proverbial baseball bat to your instrument, throw all of the audition manuals in the bin, burn all of your set/lighting/costume designs Rent-style until they are nothing but ashes.
And yet, you don’t. Because that little – albeit extremely loud – voice inside of you screams out that you can reach your dream. So, you bunker in, find some new resolve within yourself to step up to the batter’s plate again, and get ready to swing at whatever curve ball is thrown at you.
In a world where the internet, social media, and reality TV are quick to find any so-called superstar and thrust them into the limelight, only to drop them just as quickly for the next “big thing”, allow me to offer you some simple consolations that I hope will inspire you and ignite you to continue striving forward.
#1 – You are unique.
Sure, there are thousands of people out there who sing, dance, act, design, write, compose and, well, do what you do. But only you do it the way you do it. Only you have that certain “spin” on things. Only you are the result of the experiences you’ve had in your life, and therefore only you have your way of expressing and seeing things the way you do. Nobody can take that from you. And nobody can replicate what you do. You are unique because only you are you.
#2 – Don’t let your failures be the last word.
Every great success has a list of failures that went before it. Every moment of victory has had a lot of work and a lot of falls beforehand. Even when you think you can’t possibly fight back from a particular failure, think again. You can. You will. You have before. I love the song from Snoopy The Musical called “Just One Person”. If one person believes in what you do, then someone else will too, and then another, and then more, and more. Don’t lose faith in you, or in what you do. Believe, be strong, and learn from your mistakes. Billy Joel once said that the only thing that you can truly call your own are your mistakes. Embrace them, and then rise above them.
#3 – Never stop learning.
Don’t ever think that you have the final word on anything. You are always a student of the art form. If you come across something you’ve never seen before, seek out every little piece of information on it you can. Go to seminars. Buy books. Watch DVDs. Listen to podcasts. Take advice from people you respect. And be willing to admit that you could be wrong. I know how important what you do is to you. I totally understand that. I’m a composer and performer too, and I know that what I compose and create is filled with my passion and love. But there are times when I have to be honest and listen to people I trust, and put it into the “bottom drawer”. It doesn’t work, or it’s in the wrong spot; whatever. Maybe you are not meant to sing big belter songs, however much you love them. Maybe your forte isn’t in design but in conceiving. Maybe your whole opening number is totally wrong and a missed opportunity (yes, I’ve been told that, and you know what – it’s taken me a year to realize that no matter what I do to the song, it just doesn’t work!). Be willing to learn. Be willing to listen. Be open to criticism, and be honest with yourself.
#4 – Don’t ever stop dreaming.
Again, it comes back to your uniqueness. Each person’s dream is different to the next. They might be similar, sure, but only you have the little idiosyncrasies that make it special. It’s your dream, and the world is there for you to take, shake, and make stand up and notice. Take every chance that comes your way. There’s a movie from the 80’s called The Last Starfighter, and from it comes my motto for life; “You’ll get your chance! Important thing is, when it comes, you’ve got to grab with both hands, and hold on tight!”
And so, to you dear theatrically creative person, I salute you. Be strong. Be brave. And be encouraged. And I hope one day to stand in the same company as you, and be able to say “See? I told you you could do it.”
Until next time,
Blog ya later.
Photo courtesy of TheGiantVermin