I’m sure any of you could reel off 100 facts about your favourite Musical or Dance Style, but what about something more obscure? A show that is still in the writing stages that could be coming over?  Or an up and coming writer?  Knowing your field is a very important thing, it can inform your performance of a style or tell you something more about the reasons why that thing is the way it is. For the purposes of this article I’m going to be coming from a Musical Theatre standpoint because that’s what I know but I believe this is just as important for Dancers, Musicians and straight Actors too.
So why research your field?  Well I can give you a few reasons, you can actually know what you are talking about when someone mentions a musical that you ordinarily wouldn’t have heard of and if that doesn’t excite you this certainly will;  Audition songs.  You may recall (if you have read some of my other articles) that I have previously said to avoid singing something for an audition from a show that is popular and/or being performed in Australia at the moment.  The best way to avoid having to do that is to find yourself a song that you really love from a musical people don’t really know well.  That way you score an awesome song and you are unlikely to have anyone else singing the same thing at an audition.  Some of my favourite audition pieces (of mine and my friends’) are from shows that I had never heard of before.
There are so many musicals out there so here are a few ideas on where to start:

  1. Cheap stuff. It’s easy, next time you are looking through the shelves of your local CD store, or iTunes, check out what is going cheap amongst the soundtracks.  The same goes if you are wandering the markets or looking through a Vinnies or Salvos shop.  You would be surprised at what you can find for next to nothing.  While you’re there, look in the books and magazines section, last time I did that I managed to score 3 old programmes at $2 each, now that’s a bargain! The same thing goes for scripts and novels as well, it is so easy to find something to improve your industry knowledge.
  2. Discounted tickets; If you are subscribed to ticketmaster or ticketek, you will often get e-mails about discounted tickets, look to see if you can get industry discounts or if there is a show running at a smaller theatre that gives out cheap tickets last minute.  This is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the industry without having to spend a fortune.
  3. The internet, everyone uses it, maybe next time you are looking at the funny cats on youtube, type in the name of a new composer and have a listen to their music.  If you hear someone chatting about a show that you haven’t heard of before, keep it in your memory banks for the next time you have a free moment then look it up. It is highly likely that if it is in the forefront of one persons’ mind then there is a chance that it will be coming around soon.  This is the cheapest and easiest way of getting to know a show and you may even come across some great audition pieces.

Basically, if you take yourself seriously as an artist but don’t know anything about the industry you’re in it’s like a librarian who can’t read, you’ll be able to do your job well but will miss out on a whole other part of that world. I’m not saying do it every day (even though it helps) and I’m not saying you have to know every musical that ever existed (but don’t you want to?).
By: Alexandra Chambers