Vulnerability and power feed one another in the more meaningful work we accomplish, both in class and on stage.
By comparison, physical posturing, vocal gymnastics, and affected story telling fall short and allow the actor to hide, to play it safe.
At times, we can play it so safe, so hidden, so protected as to be almost completely separated from our humanity, and consequently not remotely exciting or memorable.
We hide because we are uncomfortable with being vulnerable—with being real. Real can be scary. Hiding is safer.
It is an act of courage and determination to be vulnerable and completely honest about what the lyrics and libretto mean on a more deeply personal level.
For example, how does it feel to be forbidden to see, spend time with, live with, and wed the love of your life? It is the actor’s responsibility to excavate until one’s own visceral understanding of this “imprisonment” is experienced and then lived in the moment.
And, if we know this, then the question becomes: How consistently do we call upon ourselves both in our auditions and performances to breathe our own personal history into the character?
It is a privilege to touch foot on any stage, and undeniably the Broadway stage.
To consistently challenge ourselves to be three-dimensional storytellers is imperative.
Ultimately, it is the actor’s lookout to never settle for almost! Anything less than deeply human is unacceptable.
To be ready to die for your beliefs, your family, your lover is to be profoundly vulnerable, and there is inherent power in this vulnerability.
To “play” at being powerful without accessing your vulnerability is playing it safe, and often results in two-dimensional storytelling.
Playing it safe is not our journey as storytellers. Risking and daring to push beyond our comfort zone is. When we choose to dig in, unearth, and reveal that which we carry with us historically (our personal history), we are at once unique and our journey is ours alone instead of a predictable variation of those who have come before us.
And, there is no longer competition because no one else has lived our particular history but us. We must strive to connect to our personal history—for ourselves and our audiences. This is where our work lies. This is our sacred task as actors.
Be proud of yourselves for what you have accomplished and consistently challenge yourselves to be more vulnerably human and present in your work going forward! Therein lies your authentic power.
To your success!
KIMBERLY VAUGHN (teacher, director, writer, producer, performer)
Kimberly Vaughn is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Kimberly Vaughn Performance Studio in New York City, which offers classes and one-on-one coaching sessions that encompass musical performance audition technique, and monologue and scene character and text analysis and interpretation. Kimberly also conducts master classes with leading casting directors and agents.
Her credits include: Faculty: adjunct at Circle in the Square Theater School; Director: The Sea Horse, among others; Producer: Tony-Award nominated Marlene; Performer: Constance Wilde in Dear Oscar on Broadway; Writer: CANADA, the musical. Kimberly is a member of The Dramatists Guild, Stage Directors and Choreographers, AEA and SAG-AFTRA, among others.