Make It Fresh and New and Wonderful

Last week in talking to an actress who was about to do a very important audition, I offhandedly advised her to make her work “fresh and new and wonderful.”  Many auditions are anything but fresh and new and wonderful; many are stale and tired and recycled. Auditors know within the first fifteen seconds that this will not be the audition that they had hoped to see, and will move on to someone else.

While auditioning is a very strange and difficult activity for both the actor and the auditor and somewhat removed from the actual art and craft of creating characters and making shows, it occurs to me that the same advice can apply to both of those endeavors as well. As a matter of fact, the same advice can apply to any artistic endeavor. Art should be fresh and new and wonderful, whether it is acting, directing, painting, photography, design, dance, writing, or film.

Too often we who create simply repeat what has worked for us in the past, with some occasional minor variations that make this piece just a little different. There are a variety of reasons for this: we have too much to do; we are comfortable with the thing that we continue to do; we are lazy. There are two other reasons that stand out as the most-cited in this regard. One is the idea that it worked before so it should again. This we see constantly in American movies, where success often leads to repetition and reproduction. The second is branding. While touted as a good thing, branding can often stifle creativity because we believe that if we vary too much from what we have done before we will confuse our brand in the eyes of the market.

A quick look at Apple should dispel this notion. Apple manages with each new product to produce something that is new and fresh and wonderful. Not every iteration of every  product is radically different from the one that has gone before, but there is enough of a change that many will perceive the new version as new and fresh and wonderful indeed, and the company will make that much more money.

We can manage our art the same way. Our brand does not have to be based on producing exactly the same thing all the time. It is probably well if there are significant stylistic similarities and perhaps other similarities as well, but beyond that, I am convinced that our art will thrive only if we manage to produce things that are fresh and new and wonderful in the eyes of our audience. Otherwise, our audience responds much as the auditor at a hack audition. He/she may sit silently disappointed until the audition time is expired, or, more likely, cut off the offending actor. Life is too short to listen to bad auditions, and life is far too short to put up with mediocre art, which echoes prior mediocre art, which, in turn, may echo a good idea, but an old one. By being sure that each new work is original and fresh, we can not only solidify but expand our brands.

After all this discussion, I have decided to take my own advice for once (something which many of us find difficult). I have resolved to examine each new project I undertake to be sure that I am meeting the test of making it new and fresh and wonderful. You may want to do the same.



Date: Sunday, 18. September 2011 23:51
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Audience, Creativity, Originality, Theatre

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