Why You Must Never Settle // Guest Blog by Kimberly Vaughn

Kimberly VaughnVulnerability 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 includeFaculty: 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.

Find out more about Kimberly via her website or send her an email. Find out more about CANADA via lordtommusical.com.

Don’t have a plan? Make one!

Plan

Have you ever wondered how everyone does it? How everyone achieves their goals in life while you always seem to lose focus? Well, there is a simple answer: Make a plan!

How to make a plan

While the answer may be simple, the execution might not come easily to you. If you aren’t a list-making aficionado like me, you might not even know where to begin. And even if you are, it is easy to get buried in an avalanche of to-do lists.

First of all, take a pen and paper and about an hour of your time. Don’t worry about losing that hour even on a busy day, it will make you much more efficient going forward. Trust me, I’m German. 😉

Step by Step – DAY BY DAY

Make a list of everything you want to achieve in life. Yes, everything! Whether it is getting into a BFA program, being on Broadway as Eponine, retire with a million bucks in your account or finally tell Jeff how you feel about him.

Then choose your priority. Yes, singular! Don’t kid yourself by making a list of priorities… pick one! Don’t worry. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be with Jeff if you make audition prep your priority, it only means that he will not be on top of the list of your efforts. Sounds harsh? Well, to be honest, sometimes life is harsh. And to get where we want to be, we need to make decisions. To quote Greg McKeown, “We can do anything but not everything!”

And then…

…you make a step-by-step plan on how you to achieve your priority! This plan may consist of different to do lists and it is easy to lose sight.

Let me help you with making your plan with a healthy dose of Capricorn rigidity and German efficiency. 😉 Simply send me an email to reserve your spot for a FREE 45-minute strategy session. We will make your plan in a personalised 1:1 session via video chat. Please also note that appointments are subject to availability so don’t wait too long. And everyone who recommends a friend is in for a special surprise.

Get a Head Start on your Audition Prep with Izzie’s Strategy Coachings!

strategyHey everyone! Welcome back! Did you have a nice summer? Did you recharge your batteries? I really hope so because I most certainly did.

I am so psyched and thrilled and I want to share my energy with you to give you a head start on your audition preparations.

Free strategy coachings

You are preparing for BFA auditions but have no idea what to do first and where to start?  You aren’t any good at planning ahead? Well, there is no way you can do it alone and there is no need to either. Let me help you get a clear view ahead with a healthy dose of Capricorn rigidity and German efficiency. 😉

Send me an email quickly to reserve your spot for a FREE 45-minute strategy session. Please note that appointments are subject to availability so don’t wait too long. And everyone who recommends a friend is in for a special surprise. 

What you’ll get

In your strategy session, I’ll help you find out what YOU need to nail your audition process. We will brainstorm together in a personalised 1:1 setting via video chat. Sounds cool? Well then, get typing. Be there or be square! 🙂 (Your parents are curious? No problem, just bring them along to your appointment.)

Izzie’s Big Summer Send-Off

summerMy dear readers,

time flies! It’s summer already and I, too, will go on summer and inspiration break. But don’t you worry, I will be back on September 2nd to tell you all you need to know.

 

Here are some of the topics I’ll cover in the fall:

application deadlines for the top schools in the US, UK and Australia

– the BFA Day Job Survival Guide

– how to deal with performance anxiety on your audition day (and beyond)

– how to create your own warm-up routine

– how to get in shape for your audition continuously

what to wear to an audition

– how to plan out audition season

Plus, there will be a guest blog by the great Kimberly Vaughn. Don’t miss it!

And if you simply can’t wait until September, check out my summer intensive offer. Get up to three 1:1 audition prep coachings per week with me from July 18th till August 13th. The offer is limited to five students. Just send an email to izzie@liveoutloudworldwide.com to find out about the details. 🙂

One last piece of advice for planning your summer: Choose wisely! 😉 Find out about the difference between resting and slacking in this article by The Audition Rep Matchmaker! 🙂

But enough, enough now. 😉 Have a fabulous summer! 🙂 Izzie out.

The Pros and Cons of a Day Job

Day JobUnless you’re a rich man’s kid, money will always be an issue when considering which schools to apply to. I get that. Loans and scholarships can only go so far. Some of you will have to rely on a day job to break even. But do you know what you’re getting yourself into? I sure didn’t. Which is why I want to give you a brief overview of the pros and cons of a day job.

Pros

1. You’ll have more money in your pocket

Didn’t see that one coming, huh? Yes, it will keep a roof over your head and food in your mouth. And without that, you can’t work. Without that, nothing is possible.

Cons

1. It will add to emotional and physical stress

Imagine acting, dancing and singing for 50 hours a week and then pulling two shifts at your local diner every weekend. Your body is not going to thank you and neither will your nerves. Because both the muscles and the mind need their time to regenerate.

2. It will take away your time to rehearse

Yes, time is also an issue. How will you be able to learn lines for acting class or do your daily technique exercises if you simply don’t have the time? You will not advance as quickly and thoroughly as you would without a dayjob.

3. It’s a vicious circle

Because of the additional stress, you might get sick more often. Whenever you get sick, you miss work and class. This means learning less and earning less. When you’re good again, you might need to work more to fill that hole in your wallet and you might fall behind in class even more. This can cause additional stress which might lead to getting sick again. 

You can do it 

Against all odds, don’t throw in the towel just yet. I’m not saying it is impossible. I’m just saying it’s gonna be rough. And getting your BFA doing a dayjob is better than not getting your BFA at all, right? 😉 And for some of us, there is simply no alternative. But in the end, you will be able to be all the more proud of yourself.

And to aid you in that quest, I will offer the FREE BFA Day Job Survival Guide in the fall. Be sure to be back! 🙂

Don’t panic

panic

As I’m writing this, it’s the 25th of May and I have a white towel wrapped around my neck. Why, you might ask? Well, for starters, it’s towel day and sometimes I’m just geeky like that. On the other hand, my very dear roommate just wrote me a little sticky note that says, “don’t panic” (yes, he’s sometimes also geeky like that. ;-)). But how did I get here?

Let’s rewind

Initially I wanted to write a totally different blog article today. I wanted to give an uplifting speech about making a living and a life in the arts. I wanted to tell you about all the positive (and some negative) aspects of having a broad set of skills that qualify you for so many different things that can save you from needing to pull a double shift at your local diner every Saturday. Then, my computer broke down.

Finance is a tricky thing

Okay, I’m being totally honest here. I spent all my savings on acting classes and a car I desperately needed. I’m basically living from paycheck to paycheck right now and I honestly don’t want to anymore. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands: I brushed up my excel skills (kudos to my very talented sister), browsed the web for finance blogs created especially for millennials (check out Stefanie O’Connell to get started) and created a spreadsheet and a prognosis for the entire year of 2017. I felt like I was in charge. Yes, being self-employed often involves unpredictable fluctuations in cash-flow but I felt like I could handle it if that were the case. And then my computer broke down.

Don’t panic

Yes, I was cursing the confinements of capitalism. (I might even have made a geeky joke about hitchhiking to a galaxy where capitalism doesn’t exist. :-P). Then I talked to my roommate about the fact that I needed a new computer and – quite frankly – how much that sucks because I’m currently saving up for emergencies. I just didn’t expect one to come along this quickly. And then he wrote me that little sticky note, stuck it to my now resurrected laptop and it all became clear.

A) Yes, I had made a plan but it apparently needed some adjustments and b) there is always a solution. (In my case, I looked into 0% payment plans and possibilities to cool my laptop from the outside so it doesn’t overheat.) All you need to find a solution is to stay calm and actually try to look for solutions instead of panicking about the problem.

Emergency Cheat Sheet

So, my advice to all young artists out there, whatever kind of problem you are facing:

  1. Don’t panic
  2. Make a plan
  3. Talk to someone if you need help
  4. Adjust the plan if the situation changes
  5. Succeed!

Do you have an ideal that fits you?

idealWhen you imagine the perfect musical theatre performer, what do you see?

Do you see long legs, blond hair and perfect pirouettes? Do you hear high belting sounds AND the soft legit notes? Do you see a comedic character AND somebody who can move you to tears? And most importantly, do you see all this in one single person?

Now, look at yourself. What do you see? Are you short and a little chubby and kinda weird? Did you dye your hair red, wear Doc Martens and sing on the subway? Are you taller than most guys and a mole has 20-20 vision compared to you?  Awesome!

You aren’t perfect and that’s great

So, chances are that you can’t check off all items on your perfect performer checklist (yet). And some of these ideals you will never be able to achieve, no matter how hard you try. Well, you can lose weight, wear contacts and dye your hair a different colour but you can’t change your height, the length of your legs or your bone structure. (A big no-no to plastic surgery here!!!)

So you may not fit into this ideal of yours but you are you, and – to quote Dr Seuss – “that is truer than true, there is no one alive who is youer than you”. What I’m saying is that you are unique. You are perfect in your own way. You are a completely new combination of looks, skills and personality that isn’t out there a second time.

Choose an ideal that fits you

That being said, you should rethink your ideal. Why? Because the theatre is FOR people, ABOUT people and BY people. And most importantly, the theatre is about ALL KINDS of people. And guess what, YOU are people, too.

Imagine Les Misérables without the Thénardiers, The Book of Mormon without Elder Cunningham, Hamilton without… I think you’re getting my point…

So if you do choose a performer to strive after, choose somebody real, don’t make up a fictional performing superhero in your mind. Look at Youtube videos of performers that you like and ask yourself why that is. Maybe you see some piece of yourself in them and that lets you relate.

Embrace the “imperfections”

And when you do watch them, also see that they are people, too. They are people from all different backgrounds, colour, stature, walks of life. All different inside and out. Watch them perform, be blown away and thank the Lord for the miracle you just witnessed. And then compare them to the mental checklist you had before and you will realise how ridiculous that list was.

Throw out that list right now and NEVER listen to people who are dragging you down just because you don’t fit their unrealistic checklist! Look into the mirror, tell yourself hi and start telling your stories YOUR way.

Am I good enough?

goodAm I good enough to work in musical theatre? Am I talented enough and tenacious enough to stand out from the crowd? Excellent question!

Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to these questions either. Of course, I can provide an assessment of your talent and devotion but the rest of the equation is full of unknowns.

It’s not only down to you

First of all, I want to assure you that it is perfectly normal for you to ask yourself that question. I have never met a single actor who never even had a little doubt at some point of their career.

BUT: Accepting the things you cannot change is a huge portion of the job!

Being accepted at college or being cast in your dream role doesn’t only depend on you. It is also about the preferences of the casting people. Maybe they had somebody with a different voice type in mind. Maybe the candidate right before you moved them to tears. Maybe they have simply been sitting there for hours and are desperate for a break.

Take control

Yes, there are many factors you have no influence on but don’t let that get you down! Concentrate on the things you CAN work on. Don’t wait for opportunities to come looking for you, seek them out and WORK towards them. Become the best storyteller you can be because that’s what people come to the theatre for!

It’s okay to have doubts!

It doesn’t matter at which point in your career you ask yourself that question, allow yourself to feel those doubts! If they’re really bad, lock yourself in your room for a day, eat ice cream and watch cheesy movies. Use this chance to express your feelings and let them go. Never use them as an excuse not to work on yourself! Concentrate on the solutions rather than the problem itself. Because without passion and guts, all talent is worthless.

One more thing: success and failure are really matters of definition. I admit that not being cast can feel like a failure but it is also a unique chance to grow. And even if you do decide to pursue a different career one day, you will be able to look back with no regrets.