I made an appeal last week to those of you in young artist programs to share what were your challenges and reward’s this summer in your studies. Having just given a class via Skype for the St. Andrews opera program, I was definitely having flashbacks to my own summer program experiences. It is summer vacation time, so perhaps I’m just feeling the flow of the season, but I’m looking to share this blog with professionals and aspiring professionals. The first one to step up to the plate on this issue is my friend Richard Hurst. Richard and I met in a production at The Belfry Theatre last season, and he has had a long and varied theatrical career. Here is what he has to say is needed to face the challenges of not just summer programs but of an arts career overall:
“In a word, RESILIENCE! defined as “the positive capacity of people to cope with stress and adversity”. Needless to say, rejection is a part of the process, and that MORE often than not. To not take it “personally” is a difficult mountain to climb. To not feel “less than you are” under those circumstances is more easily SPOKEN of than acted upon. And to find the wherewithal to “let it go” is, especially for a younger artist, a test of character. Just saying “there’s always tomorrow” or “you did your best” doesn’t assuage the hurt of being told someone else got the job. In fact, that phrase, if nothing else, confirms the thought that maybe you should be in another line of work. HOWEVER, developing that tough exterior early in the process might just be a ground zero life skill in this business. That skill combined with a well-founded sense of CONFIDENCE can go a long way to fending off those moments of self-doubt and insecurity. Mind, nothing can completely ease the pain of rejection, but a “bugger-them” attitude can re-focus one on the down-the-road picture. There is, indeed, “always tomorrow” and basing oneself in the assurance that one HAS abilities and a talent to share can go a long way to bringing a BALANCED and SETTLED approach to forging ahead and BELIEVING in oneself.”
Stuff to Think About
1. How do you define resilience?
2. In my Dragon at the Dressing Room Door I talked about ‘rejection’. Richard mentions “bugger-them” as an attitude that can work. Mezzo Soprano Elizabeth Turnbull commented on my facebook that it was important to remember the source always in these moments. What do you do say to yourself?
3. Can you remember a time when you really ‘believed in yourself’ (as Richard mentions) Where were you? What was happening? Who was with you? What was true in that moment?
4. What about that is still true today?
The invitation stands to all:
What do you want to add to this discussion of challenges and rewards of the work, in summer programs or otherwise?