Task the Self and Challenge the Status Quo!

Task the Self and Challenge the Status Quo!
Friday musings continue...

This is the part 2 of the early entry today...

I am very passionate about knowledge!! I have ALWAYS wanted to know "why". And thus, I continue to task myself, my students and will continue to task in my own little corner, the business about "why".

The answer to "why are things done that way?" cannot simply be, "because that's the way it's been done." That doesn't fly with me.

If we don't task ourselves as artists and performers to be the very best we can be, to live and present with a truth and an integrity, we cannot ask the "why" of the business, nor challenge the business on its reasons, or its lack of them!

The true artists don't whine. THEY GET TO WORK!!! They recognize what time it is, they see what is going on around them, they may not like it, but that are willing TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! They do not throw up their hands and just let it go. They do not whine and cry and wish and wonder...THEY WORK THROUGH IT!!

The business is not a place of light and illumination!!! The business is just plain messy most of the time! You walk through some deep mud and past some disgusting messes, and the stench of slumming and delusion and pretending and lack of responsibility/integrity/talent/work ethic or anything real is often disgusting, disillusioning and frankly, revolting.

However, we still get to work!! We are willing to recognize it, smell it, and rinse our hands off and move past it so we can get to something REAL - the work of the artist on that theatrical stage!!

So, if you want to whine about the business not doing anything - first you must be WILLING TO TASK YOURSELF. You cannot DEMAND of others without demanding of yourself first. The business is not fair, the business is not always reasonable, and the business is often not knowledgeable about the truth of the artist, or about what the artist does. They are about business. It doesn't make it right - it just is.

That is the truth. Knowledge about the craft and demand of singing, dancing, acting is not abundant on the business side of things. All you need to have experienced is one time in front of a casting director or agent or director who after you've sung something well, says "great, can you belt that?"

Obviously they don't know. Should they know? Of course they should! But most of them do not. They use language they know nothing about. But do YOU know what it means? Do YOU know what is being asked of you? Do YOU know what you can do and what you can't? What is a good idea and what isn't? Can you task yourself enough to stand firmly in place and not be swayed by a stupid request???? Or can't you?

The cookie cutter casting mentality is many-tiered. This is part of the problem. The Casting Director is only one level of this, because they have to answer to something else; who answers to somebody else; who answers to somebody else; follow the money...that is business!

The integrity of the artistry, the craft, the creation of a project is often over-looked to just follow the money. The integrity of an artist is often dismissed because that mirror makes the business uncomfortable. The truth of what an artist can bring to a project can often be ignored when the business is racist, sexist, ageist, size-ist or just plain stupid or ignorant.

However, does that mean we become part of the mire as performers and just say "yes, whatever you say?" Do we become a part of the mud we have to walk through????

Perhaps we are all 'hos' to be in the business - on BOTH sides of the table - but as artists, we have a CHOICE about what KIND of ho we will be!!

Will you risk your integrity for a job? Will you allow a business or another individual an opportunity to devalue you? It is your choice. But trust me, if you allow for your own devaluation, there will be no rising from the ashes. You will be marked. You will be part of the same hypocrisy. (Thank you Godfather 2)

The more we can task ourselves as artists and GET TO WORK ON THAT ARTISTRY and work on what we ARE and what we HAVE and what we NEED TO DO, the more we can challenge that status quo, stand up and be recognized as someone more than a cookie cut out, someone who dares to bring a truth into the room.

This isn't always comfortable. In fact, it can be extremely difficult. But true artists are not about easy or cheap or selling out. True artists are about truth and work and value and lasting. If everybody is an artist, then nobody is. We throw that word around, but are you REALLY what you say you are?

As we task ourselves in our craft, we need to look in the mirror to really begin to see who is there. We need to seek and FIND the knowledge we are looking for in order to DO OUR WORK. Asking for help, for honest response, for clarity - is CRUCIAL to the living theatre! And it is crucial for each artist to recognize WHO they are looking at - and what they need to do with that reality.

And just as artists are tasked with that, and the challenge of making a difference, so should the business be.

The mirror reflects but you must be willing to stand in front of it and actually SEE what is being reflected. Truth is hard to see if the deception to cover it up is too deep.

The business needs to challenge its knowledge and lack of it - about ALL aspects of what it professes to support and be about. Just as the expectation is of the artist not to whine and hide, so should be the expectation of the business.

As the artist tasks him/herself and challenges the cookie cutter mentality of craft, so must the business recognize what it NEEDS to know and dispense with the hypocrisy of ego and learn to challenge its dark side too!

What a concept it would be to hire artists just because they are the BEST for the job!!

Task: self, others and the business. Challenge: self, others and the business. ASK WHY. Demand some truth. Demand some clarity. Be willing to ask and be willing to HEAR IT. And be willing to WORK IT OUT.

Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking. 

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