The Importance of Artistry..

Dear Readers,

As an artist, I think it’s important to say two things.

  1. I had an opportunity to audition two weeks ago.
  2. I was not what they were looking for and that doesn’t make me any less of an artist.

I feel it necessary to say this because no matter how many auditions I do, I continually have to remind myself that the only control I have is how I perform. That is it.

The questions I ask myself in “audition post mortem”

  1. Did I study and prepare ?
  2. Did I give it all I had?

It is only after taking a very intense acting class (known as The Meissner Method) with        A Working Group that I have come to truly respect the audition process being an opportunity to work every time. I may not get the role long-term but in the audition, it’s my job to play it to the hilt and so in that moment, it’s my part.

I was lucky enough to have some great teachers in college, notable among them, my math professor, John Thomason. I always thought he was great but in my freshman year when I was going from my math class to my acting class, I was dolled up and in costume readying myself for my scene work and my professor noticed this and said

“Miss McKenna, I know you are not dressed up for my class..”  and I said,

“No, I have a scene today in my acting class, this is my costume.” He smiled and said,”I am very fond of theatre myself.”

He didn’t say anything else about it, but I noticed that in a lecture not long after that he talked about a Tina Turner concert and the importance of precision for the technician operating the crane so that he timed the entrance with the beat of the music. It made a real impact on me and I came to look for those little nuggets of performance related math and I definitely enjoyed that class and did much better in it due to the efforts of a teacher to talk about something I loved which made it much easier for me to pay attention and process the information, especially considering my distaste for mathematics heretofore.

I was reminded of this when I saw the Billy Joel concert last Friday night. First it was at the AT&T center in San Antonio which some of you will remember was the site of my first audition with “The Voice” in August 2011. So it was a nice reminder of my own personal artistry, but back to Mr. Joel and his show—-

It was exhilarating! First of all, I was really excited I had seats on the FLOOR. I went to another concert with seats in the high altitudes and resolved to myself I would not repeat the experience. I enjoyed all the musical numbers but I think my favourite part was watching an artist I admire working. He was clearly happy to be there (see above.. thanks Nathan Malone for the pictures) and made no apologies for the fact that there were “no new songs” and had some fun anecdotes about “The Ballad of Billy the Kid” and he confessed it was his botched attempt to write a soundtrack for a western but the lyrics are pretty contradictory and basically pure fabrication. As he introduced each member of the band, I found myself getting excited for these highly talented artists who were working. Specifically the male vocalist, Mike DelGuidice singing Nessun Dorma, it was pure magic and not something you would expect in a rock concert but there it was this elegant strand of gossamer next to the other beautiful yarn in this tapestry of music and light and sound.

It was truly unique and I found myself watching his mouth, tongue and lips as he created this beautiful sound. It was at this point that out of the corner of my eye I saw the lighting team working hard and it occurred to me how important their job is. Think about it, if they miss ONE cue, it definitely affects the experience of the participants, the performers and so on.. I don’t think I have ever paid attention to them before, and I realized, they are artists too. Every person working to bring this art to fruition is integral to the work. Realizing this as they worked that double encore and watching them rock out to the music as they worked, I was excited all over again about what it means to be an artist and have a renewed vigor for my next audition and role whenever and wherever that comes my way.

It may be awhile, and as my good friend Professor Pena says, “We earn our stripes, our legitimacy, as actors as much through “no”s as “yes”s. Wise words, indeed.

You may not think of yourself as an artist if you are not an actor, but I would encourage you to think again. So much of what we do as humans walking the planet has the opportunity for artistry, if we only take the time to make it art.

Think about it.


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