Friday, July 24, 2009

Feast or Famine

Friday evening musings (can you tell I'm on vacation?!?)

Vacation doesn't mean my mind quits fact, I am thinking even more it seems!!!

After a short conversation with dynamic and charismatic soprano Marcy Richardson I came to this title. I thank you Marcy! This might end up a multi-blog!!!

My next question is what is your feast and what is your famine?

First of all, why does it seem that the theatre gods send you too much work and then nothing???? Couldn't it all spread out throughout the season???? Ah, something to take up with those gods...beyond my control!

How do you determine your feast AND your famine?  Is it just about work? Or is it the kind of work? 

Each of us has to decide what "works" for us in wherever we are in our career journey.  
Our career journey and our career ethic  has to be directed by us!! YOU are the only one who can determine what makes sense for YOU.

However, do you take everything in sight, the good, bad and the ugly? What happens if you burn out? What happens if you choose the "wrong" repertoire? What does that say about you? Does it matter? Of course it matters!!! It is YOUR and YOUR career.  Your choices must be that - CHOICE.  Choices change depending on so many factors.

I think if we look at a career as a journey, as a growth, a maturity, we can simplify a bit in this very labyrinth-infested journey!!!  Be it opera or music theatre!!!

Just as human beings begin as children, sit up, crawl, stand, walk and run and mature, so should our careers if we want longevity and development.

We must not just plan out our technical development, musical development, role development, dramatic development, but our CAREER development.  How do you want to create, develop, grow, mature and KEEP CREATING????  

This journey isn't is in the experience of each step, not just in the time it takes to get there.  I will say that again:  The artistic journey is in the experience of EACH step, not just in the time it takes to get there.

If you do not learn/grow/acknowledge the step, you will begin to move in circles, not along the path.  The choices will begin to feel like Groundhog Day the movie!!! 

Perhaps you need to turn work down because you are  already booked - even though the work you turn down would be more gratifying (you think).  I am not a Pollyanna, but I do believe things happen for a reason even if the reason is not clear right away.  If we are paying ATTENTION we will discover why we are where we are.  Being an artist on a journey means BEING PRESENT. Being present will give you the discovery and "a-ha" moment.

If you need to turn down work - what a great position to be in!!! There is your feasting! People are paying attention to you and what you have to offer!!! Keep those connections! If they truly are interested, they will call you again. They may call sooner when they know you are or seem to be in demand.

Perhaps you need to take that cover or that no/low pay gig - if you are just starting, or if it's a role you really want in your repertoire and it would be a great opportunity to get it on its feet.  Only YOU can decide whether that is a positive move for you.  

Maybe it's famine time - and no gigs of substance, but a smaller role that you could do comes up and it pays - and it makes sense to take it for the time being.  

There are no small roles, remember?  If we all wait for the starring role, we don't work. Some of us, NEVER.

Do we know our worth? Do we know our reality? Are we willing to tell the truth about ourselves to find out place in that journey?

We must find out what we CAN do, and what we MUST do in order to determine what we WILL do.  Taking on too much is just as damaging as not taking on enough.

Our business is small.  They remember.  Sometimes we wish they would forget (!) but they don't. Your decisions are always being carefully watched.  Be gracious, be real, look out for YOUR well being and YOUR journey.  Yours is unique and distinct. It does not belong to your teacher or your coach, or a director or a conductor.  At the end of the day, you can smile and say "I appreciate the offer but I am not in a position to take that just now - but I hope you keep me in mind next season."

Saying "yes" to everything does not necessarily give you the reputation you might be wanting to develop! Saying "no" for YOUR reasons can give you more time to experience and to walk! And then, TO RUN!!!

Work, dream, give yourself goals, meet them and give yourself more!!! But remember, you have NOW - and now can be glorious if you create where you are to your fullest.

Feast or famine?  Perhaps.  And perhaps it is in the eye of the beholder.  Perhaps there isn't a positive or a negative. Perhaps it is THERE. And you are HERE.  And HERE is the best place to begin the journey, and continue it.


  1. Those perceived "famine" times are great for learning new roles/audition rep/recital material! Also great for shopping. It's always a time crunch to shop for concert clothing just before the concert.

    So, "famine" can be creative. Doesn't have to mean "do nothing."

  2. That's right! Famine can be a very FULL time!!!

  3. Great blog! I'm hoping also that an opportunity I don't feel ready to take on can go to a fierce friend I recommended--and it can be a feast for HER! And when they fall in love with her, how great will that reflect on me? Much better than not doing a great job myself. Karma, baby. Who knows....I wouldn't want to be an agent, but a freelance casting director? No problemo.I would be thrilled to have GD's call me to ask for last minute replacements or new/upcoming stage director recs-I wouldn't steer them wrong! Food for thought......