Your growth as an artist and as a human being lies in the constant development of your instrument, which includes your instincts, your mind, and your storehouse of knowledge. It is a series of victories — sometimes small — over fears and doubts. Through practical advancement and application (that is, by doing rather than talking or fretting about), it is the continual building up of that list of things that change from “I couldn’t possibly” to “yes, I can”. You might never be among the ranks of the great singers but, by gum, by taking it on, you will be better and not afraid to do it when the circumstances call for it. You will become better and better prepared, more directable, and more marketable.
I’ve written a lot about critical thinking in the last few blog posts, partially because I believe it’s something that’s currently lacking to a great degree in our culture and particularly in the arts. In future blog posts, I’ll expand on this and explore the interplay of imagination and rational thinking.
As I have said previously, almost anyone could stand on the stage and “feel”. But could you do it again? You and I could scream our lungs out at each other. “Wow! I really felt that!” we might say afterwards, licking our chops like cats. But would it serve the play, be interesting and appropriate, or would it just be emotional masturbation? And again, could either of us do that again and again without very rapidly wrecking our voices?
In the end, who really cares if you “felt” it or not? The real test is: Were you able to convey across the footlights the impression that the character was feeling whatever emotion of the moment, by whatever path you took to get there?
Simple emotional indulgence is not only boring to watch, it’s a cheat. You might start by getting “feelings” but can you justify them after the fact?