If you filled in “easy,” you’re either musical theatre-literate or you are used to just chillin’ out for a couple of months until someone drags you back into the reality of school, classes, jobs, lessons, putting on plays, whatever keeps you busy.
So many of you with aspirations toward the performing arts think you can afford to fritter away these lazy summers. Seriously? I’m here to throw cold water over those plans.
Yes, you need to chill. Yes, you need downtime. Time to do the things you like, even if what you like to do is nothing. I’m all for it. I say a well-balanced, creative life is healthier than a compartmentalized one. To have projects to work on and still find time for other things makes your life more fluid and fun, too. A balanced life is more like the art you want to make. When you are open to things, life has a way of bringing you the unexpected and if your mind is open, you can make into something unique, more whole, more meaningful.
Make your bed
So when I advise you to make your bed in the morning, I’m not envisioning turning you into a neat freak, one who gets the approval of all the mothers in the neighborhood. What I am seeing is you onstage or backstage doing what you love. And all because you made your bed today. Because if you remember to make your bed today and do it again tomorrow and the next day, you will have learned a little of the kind of order you need to bring to your world and to do it consistently enough to get the skills, the determination, the mindset to make your dreams come true.
Try it right now. Go and make that bed. Then write it down on your list of daily activities. (What!!! No lists?? We are starting from scratch!)
Here’s the thing. You need an advantage to break into the performing arts. You need training and experience, but you also need an edge. By making your bed in the morning, you are preparing to become an entrepreneur, someone with business sense as part of his or her arsenal but who has vision, who has gotten past the humdrum of daily existence. Making the bed is humdrum. But you need to live in an orderly world, to get rid of the clutter in the mind and body that is keeping you from truly creating. You make the bed as a matter of course, the way you brush your teeth, and you no longer have to live in that clutter because soon, you will want to put your things away and at least clear a path to that made bed. Best of all, you don’t have to think about it. You do it out of habit. You are free and clear to do work on things on a higher level.
Be an entrepreneur
You are growing up in a lousy economy and a changing one. It used to be you could work in manufacturing and make a great living. Now there is service and technology. Thank goodness there is still the entertainment industry thriving but ever changing. This is the industry that you most likely will find employment in, but you need to do more than just aspire. You need to know about the changing economy and job markets and you need to sharpen your ambitions down into details. Just what are you aspiring to? Acting? Really? Do you know that you can be a singer who acts? Like in opera? Or maybe you’ll do improvisational theatre. Or you’ll make a great living acting in commercials. (Stephanie Courtney who plays Flo on the Progressive commercials, comes to mind. Her unique acting and comedy style landed her a plum of a job and, artistically, what she does in 30 seconds or a minute is amazing.)
Broadway is not the only way to see or take part in the performing arts and you know this already, just like you know you can see what should be a television show on your computer or a handheld device, your phone. You know there are plenty of TV shows and movies, old and recent, that you can see on demand through devices other than your old television set. Even more interesting and far-reaching for you and your ambitions, there are shows being developed just for the internet devices that by-passes the television set altogether. You need to see these things you take as everyday things as opportunities. No longer is the performing arts media only film and television, they are coming to you through the internet. Have you seen the series House of Cards with Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright? So far as I know, you can only see that from the internet through Netflix, which features the series as a way of getting into the original programming arena.
So what is it that you need that you may not be getting? The mindset of an entrepreneur, of a business person, of someone who is flexible and grounded enough to see what is happening. It is not just your grandparents who are coping with a fast-changing technologically robust world. You are doing it daily and you probably expect those changes. I am suggesting that you see those changes as something that is going to affect how you practice your art.
Spend this summer exploring the many paths of the performing arts. Narrow down your interests so that when you get to the real thing (college, conservatory, internships) you will be less likely to lose focus by having to change your major or your area of study. The more you know today about the outlets for the performing arts, the more solid your next level of study will be, whether it is producing shows on You Tube or performing on the international opera stage.
In a nutshell
- Make your bed every morning and get a grip on daily chaos. This is the first step toward acquiring the discipline you will need for your art. Find order in your life.
- Watch all kinds of media productions with an eye toward your possible future.
- Find the businessperson in you while you look over the field for opportunities.
- Begin to narrow down your performing arts interests with an eye toward acquiring skills, education, and experience.
Where to go from here: Check out some of the posts under Summer projects to find things you can easily do. And some not so easy.
Coming post: What you can do this summer: ideas abound