Monday, March 30, 2015

Where Did You Put The Tickets?

People are frequently astonished that I have never seen Breaking Bad, Orange Is The New Black or even Titanic. Yes, it is true.  I've never seen this moment:



Until recently, I couldn't figure out why. At first I blamed it on living in a testoterone-filled house, where there's always a sporting event appearing on at least one screen. But then I realized there are plenty of other screens available for my viewing pleasure.

And then I figured it out. I was missing out on all these small-screen shows and movies because

I WAS ATTENDING LIVE PERFORMANCES

Obviously, attending live performances is a priority for me. As it should be. I'm a performer and I train performers. I better get out there and see what's going on.

Some of you are able to attend live performances AND watch all of the latest Netflix series. Good for you. Let me know how that works out when you end up with a more-than-full-time career, a husband, a kid AND a house in your life.

I also know that many of you don't attend live performances because you think you're tired, you think you don't have enough money, you get depressed because you're not on the stage, or, because that party your friend is throwing just feels so much more important.

I'm going to encourage you to change your thinking. Here's why:

Enjoyment – When you work as an artist, it is easy to forget that you actually enjoy the art. At least I hope you do. I frequently think of the colleague from my opera years who told me she never attended live performances because she didn't really like opera. I never understood that. Why would she give so much of her time and energy to an art form she didn't like? Especially one as demanding as opera? No offense, but it's not like being an accountant.

I go to performances because I love seeing humans express themselves. I am continually taken with the various ways humans, as a species, have found to express and communicate. Don't you love that feeling of joy or of being moved to tears by a piece of art right in front of your face?

I recently attended a performance of the opera Manon at the Met. I don't like this opera, mostly because I don't like the character Manon. She makes life choices that I cannot understand and I have never found the music that compelling. Well, the performance I recently saw changed my mind. It was everything opera should be – a captivating story well-told through great singing, a great orchestra, a wonderful concept carried out in excellent costumes and sets – but that wasn't the best part. The best part was the last moment of the opera when the character Des Grieux is kneeling over the love of his life, Manon, as she lays dying. (It's an opera, get over it.)  This singer, Vittorio Grigolo let out a cry that was so honest, so compelling, so human. I couldn't help myself. It brought tears to my eyes. It was real.

Everything had been fantastic that afternoon. But that cry....that's why we go, folks.

I am also continually taken with the way we, as consumers of art, respond to live performances. Why do some people respond to one song and not the other? Why do some people love the ballet and not the tango? As a working artist, that's important, because I need to be able to:

Discern – it is true that some of the performances I attend are not of the highest quality. Instead of mentally snarking my way through, I ask myself what would make the performance better. Is it the performers? Is it the direction? Is there a different way to present this same piece of art? Is it the work itself? Is it the venue? I don't stop there. I take it to that next, important step, and I ask myself – how does this apply to my creative work? This is, I suppose, a form of:

Professional Enrichment – which is me using big words. Let me translate. There are wonderful new creative ideas out there, waiting for you, hanging out in the places you haven't thought of yet. They will enrich your work and transform your life. Go find them.  See above story.

Support – I attend many events because I want people to know that I believe in them and I believe that what they have to say is of value. Maybe they don't get it right all of the time, but they're trying. Maybe they'll say one phrase, play one note, move one move that will transform my life. In my book, that's worth sitting through okay moments. In my book, that merits my support. Yours too. And you know what else? Sometimes looking out there and seeing that one face makes all the difference. Be the face.

Yes, frequently I do not want to leave my comfortable house. I still go. It's the Golden Rule in action. Remember that one? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Yes, it's true. If you want people to attend your performances, you need to attend theirs.

It's cultivating an attitude of generosity. It's opening yourself up to experiencing something different, to being a good colleague. Besides, you never know who else is going to be in attendance, which means you might have the opportunity to:

Network – That's right, when you attend performances, you're going to rub shoulders with other people in your industry. Most of them tend to be impressed when they meet you at a performance. It says you care, it says you're invested in the form. This is particularly advantageous when you encounter the people who make the hiring decisions. They tend to appear at performances. Rarely do they appear in your living room.

The spring is a wonderful time to attend performances. There's many to choose from and the weather is usually better. So here's your Creatavita challenge.

Attend a live performance or event.  For a double challenge, attend an event that presents a new form to you.

Go to a book signing.  Go hear a singer-songwriter.  Go to an opera. Try something different.

Post your comments here on the blog.  Don't put them on Facebook or Twitter, because not every Creataviter can see them.  I bet we'll get some cool experiences.

Oh, if you need assistance choosing an event, I'm glad to help. You know where to find me.

Gotta go. The show starts in 7 minutes.

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