The pursuit of craft and of artistry can be a very "alone" journey. It has to be done solo - we cannot take people with us, nor can we ride on the coattails of anyone else; however, as the journey continues, we can walk parallel, intersect, and view others on their paths.
How do we create a community to explore ourselves and each other, without feeling threatened, put upon, or in competition with?
What have we done to nurture a community - beyond going for drinks, or seeing each other at the audition?
Nurturing community demands a commitment too. It can allow like minds/spirits to come together without fear of chastisement, or competition, to explore the journey together.
Some of us will find ourselves leading these communities. Some of us will be the integral members of keeping that community alive.
I am always pleased to see communities building around me. I see Salon Concerts, where singers can come and sing and work together - for each other -- JUST BECAUSE, to try out new repertoire, work through glitches in an environment that has no criticism. I see singers come together to take a concert to a nursing home, or a hospital ward, or other outreach.
I see actors creating "monologue circles" - where they can explore monologues and scenes together for each other, just for the sake of creation.
And on and on...
We study, we take classes, we critique, we are critiqued, but sometimes, we need the community of other singers and other actors to share the passion and discovery of where our craft has taken us that week, that month, this time! Sometimes, we just need to share and NOT be critiqued. Sometimes, we just need to be with like minds in order to feel like we belong somewhere in a larger community than just SELF.
Are you finding these places of community? Do you need to create one and invite others to attend?
Just like a "book club" allows for discussion and realization from many different people and different walks of life, so can these communities of discovery within our artistic process!
Often between shows, between concerts, between the between (!) we need reinforcement not from auditions, not from voice lessons, not from classes, but just from DOING what we believe in, while in the company of like minds. We are not competing; we are not trying to get a job; we are allowing the process of artistic development to have a forum without pressure. We can try out new material; we can try out material we would never use anywhere else - which is rather freeing!
I once belonged to an "opera circle" that met once a month. Every three months, we were to bring in an aria we would NEVER sing - and it was something we all looked forward to! We didn't have to be off-book, we just needed to prepare it! It gave another level of authenticity to our work, as we delved into a fach and even a gender that we normally would not consider.
These communities can be cathartic and become true moments of strength and give us hope and even "a-ha" moments as it takes off the presumption and the pressure.
Doing with others what you DO just for the sake of DOING allows freedom and getting in touch with more of your artistic journey.
If you can't find a community - create one!!
A "Monologue Night" I was a part of was for actors who were unemployed as actors. The community was fluid and people came and went and came back when they finished a gig! Every week we met somewhere else - someone's apartment, a lounge, a bookstore...The fluidity of the community and the place of residence changed and it made for an always interesting set of circumstances! And we worked with it! And it worked!
As singular as the artistic journey is, it is so important for us to find like minds to intersect with along the way. This sense of community develops a place we can trust outside of ourselves. It gives us a sense of belonging and a place to look forward to.
If you haven't found one, I really recommend you explore the possibility! Or create one and invite others and see it grow! Nurturing ourselves, demands we nurture others. There is no competitiveness in that. It is humane, and brings another level of respect to someone else's process, as they gain the same for yours.
Susan Eichhorn Young
Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking.
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