A Bag of Tricks

Your growth as an artist and as a human being lies in the constant development of your instrument, which includes your instincts, your mind, and your storehouse of knowledge. It is a series of victories — sometimes small — over fears and doubts. Through practical VictoriesOverDoubtsxcfadvancement and application (that is, by doing rather than talking or fretting about), it is the continual building up of that list of things that change from “I couldn’t possibly” to “yes, I can”.   You might never be among the ranks of the great singers but, by gum, by taking it on, you will be better and not afraid to do it when the circumstances call for it. You will become better and better prepared, more directable, and more marketable.

Develop your armamentarium, your bag of tricks. Know how it’s done, how to do it, and why, and pull it out when needed.

Be prepared. You are not flying by the seat of your pants when you are working. That is the depth of unprofessionalism. In no other profession would you condone that.  Would you let a surgeon operate on you who hadn’t thought thinSurgeonOperategs through in detail beforehand so that she was prepared?  Would you let a carpenter build your house without doing the necessary measurements and knowing which materials to use?   Of course not!  And anyone who walks onto a stage, whether in rehearsal or performance, as dancer, singer, or actor, without having made well-considered choices is disrespecting his audience, his craft, his directors, and his fellow performers.

Decide before it hits you in the face in performance. This is common sense. You must never be on the stage in a state of desperation. Something may always happen and you may need to adjust but at least youNeverDesperateOval will know where you need to get back to.   And building that storehouse of knowledge through experience prepares you for anything and guides you to get where you need to be.

“Oh!   A bag of tricks!   Ach!   Never!”  I can hear some saying.   “No, no!  I must be constantly new and fresh! I must always be spontaneous and open!”    You are a fool.

A “bag of tricks”?   You bet!   You have them in real life, too.   Call them your coping mechanisms or your ways of doing things.  They are what you do, what your use, to get through life.   Having them doesn’t mean your growth stops.   It means you have reliable resources.   On stage, it means you are real and can cope.  

In real life, you know what works and what doesn’t in dealing with many situations and with many types of people. Why, as you struggle to create “reality” in a performance, would you cheat yourself of the same gift?   On stage, using your “bag of tricks” means you are not desperate and can be realistically and genuinely open because you are confident and therefore relaxed.

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