PERFORMER LONGEVITY

Published on 26th Jul, 2010

Performers want to perform. Many believe they must perform to survive – they need it. Need the applause, the adrenalin, the creative outlet: the fantasy. The wonderful full feeling, the knowing: you are in exactly the right place at the right time – synchronous bliss!
Unfortunately performers, creative artists, whatever your title may be, if your sole focus isn’t making money and instead expressing your art, life presents a few challenges. Particularly in Australia. One of those challenges is finding and maintaining a stable lifestyle while doing what you love. By stable I mean we all have to eat, sleep (somewhere), cloth ourselves and most of all keep that creative spark bright.

So off you go to audition after audition, training, rehearsing, researching eager to show off your wares in the hope of attaining the golden grail: performance. You miss out a couple of times, then finally you get it! It’s amazing! You perform your season for maybe 1 week, 1 month, 1 year.

Then the cycle goes round again. Except this time your finances dwindle in between jobs due to the luxurious extras you became accustomed to while working, so you decide to get a day job to bridge the gap. The day job is hard to get out of when you get those last minute auditions, you step on some toes, lose a job here or there, get frustrated but keep firmly towards your goal to perform. You receive some great jobs and reviews (and some ordinary ones,) some performing, some in a cafe or bar.

Ten years later you are still living in share houses touring the country or overseas to get a longer contract, feeling a little less excited than you were in the beginning. You may be harbouring an injury or two, stepped on a few more toes and feeling a little lost. Do you decide to keep trying or settle down and get a real job?

This question and many versions of it, comes up for so many creatives at various points in their career. Having lived my own experience as a professional triple threat performer onstage, employed with less than 2 months break between contracts in music theatre from the age of 18 to 28 – I know how it feels. I have now successfully transitioned into a number of jobs after deciding I had, for the moment, finished my time ‘on the boards’ and was passionately interested in exploring the many other elements of my creativity. I have since lectured at the VCA and other institutions in stage craft, I have choreographed and directed a variety of shows and events and am now an Associate Producer. I have also re-educated in Pilates, Yoga, Web design and Multimedia. Crazy you say! Yes probably …but here you see a creative actively engaging in life wherever possible.
I believe every person has the need and desire to be creative. Some of us are more connected to it, others are creative with numbers with design there really is no end to it. The most important thing I have found is the psychology we utilise, our mental capacity to deal with the challenges and make the most of every opportunity.
The best way to provide yourself with a strong platform to soar from in the beginning, is a sound training in a specific area or in a broader range of areas if you aren’t 100% certain which path you would like to venture. Research online, read magazines, ask role models questions to source the right training for your needs.

With anything, the more research you do the more confident you will be with the decision you finally make. While training, look to as many sources of inspiration as possible through music, visual art, performing arts, literature, mentors. A steady diet of incoming creative nourishment will appear in your work and drive your motivation.

Ensure your physical vehicle – your body – is also nourished with fresh food, hydration and rest. Train in moderation, be aware of your postural form and seek professional advice from a recommended professional for any sharp pain.

Be aware of your mental state while training, in preparation and during performance. Are you allowing a negative critique to cloud your creative flow? Give yourself the care and consideration you would offer a loved one trying something new whenever you have the chance. Be your most loyal support and spread that generosity to those around you also doing their best.
Once you feel ready to audition and make your art your business, investigate agents and companies you would like to work with comprehensively. It’s not enough to Google wikipedia or the like. Speak to people, start creating relationships. Remember to treat everyone you meet with courtesy and respect, you never know who they may be connected to or how much you may want to be working with them or their mother, father, partner, best friend in the future!

Relationships with work colleagues, employees, teachers – anyone – are the most important part of an enduring career full of support, constructive feedback, collaboration and expanded networks.

By Cara Dinley

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