It's Not The Piece But You

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Why is that when people ask for help with pieces, or describe what they are searching for, it usually can be summarized with "something that will make people cry?"  You might find a "make them laugh hysterically" if you are talking to a comedian.  These are not bad attributes to look for when on the quest for a piece.  It is just a narrow objective.  Make them cry.  Make them laugh.  Where is the YOU?

Rarely do I hear people describe a story they are interested in or ask for one that would use their interpretive and speaking skills expertly.  I never hear people ask for a challenging work for performer and audience alike.  There is little spoken of what they want from the piece.  New, and a collection of Varsity, competitors are focused on what judges would like; on what tends to do well in competition.  I will acknowledge that some thought should be spent on asking if a piece holds universality.  Can a majority of those watching relate to and appreciate your selection?  Good question.  But it is not the only question.

Let's be truthful: not everyone will enjoy your piece.  Not all will bawl from it or laugh to the point of stomach cramps.  Searching for that ideal of absolute, universal perfection is useless for everyone's version of perfect is unique.  The sane solution is to find a piece that connects with you.  Look for something that allows for you to show range and your abilities.  Something that makes you think.   A work that, because you love it so much, forces you to want to continually become better at telling its story.  

I think what everyone needs to remember is that it is not the piece that makes a performance, it is the performer.  Fill a room with five performers all doing the same piece, same cutting.  Create a controlled environment where the only major variable is the performer themselves.  Guaranteed you would be able to rank these five with relative ease.  Why?  There will probably be a person who dislikes the piece.  Another who appreciates it but would never choose to it to perform.  Yet another who likes it but knows it is not within their range.  And so on. 

Conclusion: a great piece does not make a great performance (helps, but it is not everything).  It is the performer that influences the piece and who can play the piece at its optimum.  I think the only chance you have to connect to the audience as successfully as possible is to first connect with your piece.  And trying to find something to please the masses first and you second is not how.   


I completely agree with this! I hate to see a good piece ruined by a performer who is just not the right fit for THAT piece, but who are doing it anyway because it's won awards before.

Ha, thanks! Finding a good piece is a lot like finding the perfect speech suit. A great suit will still look somewhat shabby on a person if the fit wasn't quite correct.

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