09. November 2010 · Comments Off on Other People’s Words · Categories: Other People's Words

love words. But I also love the way a skilled singer can take a phrase, a scene, a role, and create something new and vibrant and relevant through their interpretation…seeing a situation through someone else’s lens is powerful, and I think the clearest way to see similarities and differences in oneself.

But these beautiful lines, this rich subtext, the conflict has to be communicated. And to successfully communicate, there need to be two parties involved: the speaker and the listener. The listener, in this case the audience, need to free themselves of distraction (i.e. no texting during the show, running through the to-do list, or firing off the random email from the seats), and be willing to spend a good chunk of time listening. They need to suspend disbelief (in dragons, true love, the wrath of the gods, et cetera ad nauseam) and be receptive to the crux of each of these stories: the relationships therein.

The performer’s responsibilities are to create a believable, multi-dimensional character: to tell that character’s story: to believe the story 100%. They also must create two types of relationships: those onstage that facilitate the telling of the story, and those with the audience that creates the space for the telling of that story.

Part of that audience relationship is made up of those nit-picky things like vocal technique and knowing your music: because let’s face it, if those pieces aren’t in place, the story you’re telling isn’t “I’m in love with a man who walked away from me and our child and now my life is not worth living,” or “Because you’ve killed my lover I’m going to throw myself off the nearest bridge/tower/parapet,” but rather “holy CRAP I’m totally unprepared and uncomfortable.”

BIG difference in subtext, that.

Do go read the whole thing.

I think we instrumentalists can learn something from this too. We are communicating to an audience, unless we are sitting in our own private little room playing to ourselves. We need to remember that.

I won’t start my own little rant here. But I do need to remind myself, at least, that when on the stage or in the pit the way I look, the way I behave, the things I do or don’t do — they are all part of the performance. And the audience is watching.

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