The performer | Columns
Being an entertainer or any type of artist is both a blessing and a curse. You experience the depth, breadth, ups and downs of life in extraordinary ways, but your lack of practical real-world skills often condemns you to the category of starving artist.
Acting is a living art, whether on stage or in the cinema. The actor brings words to life and lives in characters who had previously only lived on paper. It is an exciting, mysterious and always new experience. Being an actor is like never having to grow up. You get paid to play and go on an adventure. This is why these jobs are so hard to get and keep.
Stage fright is something you have to overcome if you really want to be an artist. Some people have it worse than others, but I believe we all have it to some extent. With me, it always helped to have rehearsed with a casting for several weeks, because it was like already having an audience. Also, when you are performing on a pre-stage stage, the audience is in the dark while the stage is ablaze with lights, so you can pretend the audience is not there. Cold auditions in front of a group of strangers are the most nerve-racking acting experience.
When playing in a play you can get attached to your characters since you spend several weeks developing them, but with fast paced movies you don’t jump into the character sooner than you say “goodbye” to him. role. There isn’t enough time to really develop your character.
Cinema is a unique art that has the ability to capture a perfectly orchestrated performance from a multitude of artists and present it to one audience after another for centuries. The performers and performers may all be dead and gone, but they continue to perform and entertain us.
The novelty of “moving pictures” never fades to me. I am just as thrilled to watch a magic lantern show as I am to watch finely crafted movies. Even creating flipbooks and animating basic drawings can be a lot of fun.
Even though acting is my all-consuming passion, singing is probably my most natural talent. I resisted it, however, and tried to focus on the classic game, making it hard to find an audience. Nevertheless, I have been inspired by singers, Shirley Jones, Jane Powell, Deanna Durbin, and also many movie musicals, including Gilbert and Sullivan’s musical “Pirates of Penzance”.
My first big debut as a solo artist took place at my cousin’s wedding at the age of 14. I was to sing “The Lord’s Prayer” (the high soprano version). It was the first time that I realized that in the vocal arrangements, the pianist was playing something different and the singer was supposed to sing the main aria which had to blend with the notes of the arrangement. It was difficult to learn this new style of singing.
On D-Day, I was petrified, (even if, throughout my career, “stage fright” has never prevented me from finishing my performance and doing an adequate job). I was terrified of dishonoring myself, ruining and ruining the marriage. As soon as I started singing all the nerves seemed to rush into my mic clenched hands and numb them completely, but the performance went well.
Most recently I had an episode during a performance that tested my skills as a performer. It was during the Easter Sunday service at Hawthorn Presbyterian Church. I signed up to sing. At the last minute my dad told me to take one of his desks, so I did, thinking, “What could go wrong?” Well, it turned out that something “could go wrong” that I wasn’t expecting. Halfway through my solo, the music stand started to sink in front of me. I ripped out my music as the grandstand lowered. Our speaker tried to help set up my booth, but in less than 30 seconds it sank again. All the while, I continued to sing without missing a beat or getting out of sync with my CD accompaniment. Finally, I dropped the music and finished on a high note. We later found out that there was a small groove in the metal music stand that had not been properly secured.
The skill of performing on the piano is useful, especially in churches. I’m not the most gifted musician, but my pianist skills are good for most everyday events and are in reasonable demand.
Dancing has never been one of my strengths. At first, I struggled with all kinds of stage movement. I was stiff and awkward. I am extremely slow when trying to learn choreography. I have to watch the dancers in front of me and reflect their actions. In a dance class at the university, I had the chance to learn an insight into the world of dance. Ballet was pure torture (I prefer pantomime), tap dancing was a chore, but jazz and modern dance was kinda fun, because you made it up as you go. Maybe one day I’ll improve my dancing before I get too old.
When you become the MC (Master of Ceremonies) of a program, you automatically become a bit of a comedian. Audiences are eager to laugh and be entertained, so any comic commentary is likely to cause a wave of laughter from the crowd. My brother and I have done a number of gigs over the years and someone had to speak between songs to tie the program together. I was the logical choice, so I became comfortable with public speaking. Little behind-the-scenes jokes are the audience’s favorite.
When you get into show business, you end up dabbling in everything on and off stage, right down to baking cookies for the intermission concession stand. To endure all of the headaches and chaos that come with the performing arts, you have to really love acting.
In conclusion, too many people make the mistake of thinking that “talent” is all that is needed to be successful in the performing arts. Talent is only part of success. The amount of time, hard work and determination that an individual is willing to put into their dreams is the best way to measure their potential for success.