This morning I heard from a student I had in class forty years ago. He wote to comment on a post I had made on Facebook regarding the sorry state of acting in today's theatre. Most of that post was an article by Arthur Penn, the famous director. My former student wanted to let me know how he has achieved success as a professinal tenor, performing opera. His message is one that actors need to take to heart-- that it takes courage and conviction, dedication and perseverance to succeed as a professional performer. What he has experienced is not unlike what a good actor experiences in preparing for his career.
I am greatful to this former student of mine for reminding me that training is important in the search for success. I have perhaps downplayed that importance in much of my writing. But it is necessary for the actor to keep his voice and body in tune through constant coaching and instruction in classes.
Here are the portions of his letter to me that are most applicable to actors:
"I AM a great guy, and this fact has NEVER helped me find work! Perseverence and drive, living like a Bohemian, showing up to every audition and spending everything on lessons and coaching is what works. No one cares, at all, that I have had a more than colorful life. They only care about how I sound and how I look and whether or not they can somehow use me in their house. I am only what I can offer at that very moment and all the rest does not make any difference whatsoever.
"I have been monumentally lucky in that I am FINALLY making my big-assedTiroler Festspiel Erl this summer singing the Duke from Verdi's Rigoletto. This offer was made following my FORTY-FIFTH audition. What a boon! What a coup!"
It is difficult for us to imagine attending 45 auditions for a role. I have read of actors attending half a dozen or more, but never so many as this. It is a tribute to the directors who want to have the best possible production, and it is a tribute to the singer/actor who endures and succeeds!