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Backstage Experts

The 1 Way to Never Play It Safe Again

The 1 Way to Never Play It Safe Again

If we all are uniquely wired with no other person on the planet our clone, then why do we hide from ourselves and those stalwart casting directors, musical directors, directors, choreographers, and others waiting for us to share our “spark of creation” with them?

We know that we audition to reveal who we are and what makes us tick. We desire to unveil the real deal. So how come the withhold?

What is the payoff for hiding, for playing safe? Let’s name it is so we can own it and then consciously choose to let it go...consciously choose to create a new map to replace it. 

The “brain game” is a phrase we could use to discuss numerous variations in our thought process that either serve or deny our success. Today, the brain game focuses on why we manipulate our true instincts—our unique impulses in favor of staying safe. And, what we can do to break free.

Let’s look at the payoff for playing safe: I get to stay in control, to sing with perfect technique, to make a good impression, to watch everything they do, to watch myself, to stay comfortable.

Let’s look at the results: My work is predictable, mechanical, “right” but not real, primarily devoid of risk taking, my true impulses are hidden. I stay safe and predictable.

This audition almost never wins the callback. And, you can feel that when you leave the room and even during your audition.

Perfectionism (the internal pressure to do it right), technically proficient mechanical delivery, avoiding risks, hiding, and pressure to make a good impression are all in the “withhold” school of storytelling. They keep us safe, comfortable and predictable, but they imprison us and keep us stuck.

However, we are always at a point of choice —the nerves, the need, the expectations notwithstanding. It is up to us to consciously, willfully choose success, choose revelation, choose our spontaneity in an improvisational way like children. So that we become the surprise in the room.

Let’s look at the results: My work is spontaneous, improvisational, has surprise in it, shows risk taking, and is free and unpredictable.

I express myself. I share my humanity. I inhabit and live the song, the monologue, the scene. I allow my impulses and instincts and I trust that the technique will be there.

If we consciously choose this new map—“play instead of perfection” we choose the  impulsive, instinctual side of our brains where spontaneity, surprise, and risk taking are possible, making our work unpredictable, joyful, and exciting.

I saw it happen on stage last night. A young female actor with whom I’ve been working chose to play instead of hide in a semi-mechanical, safe delivery and her entire performance came alive with her playful spontaneity. She was a wonderful surprise!

Our new map: Choose play over perfection. Choose real over right. Choose surprise over predictability. Choose to reveal the real you. 

To your success!  

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Kimberly Vaughn is a performer, director, producer, writer, and Backstage Expert. For more information, check out Vaughn’s full bio!

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