French artist Marcel Duchamp said, “The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.” As artists, we cannot do this job alone and we’re not meant to. There is no film set in the world run, operated, and functioning on the strength and talents of one individual. You cannot hold a boom and direct a scene and set the lights and play the character. Art is about collaboration. With yourself, with your cast and crew, and with the audience.
Of course, sometimes it can feel like you’re on your own. Auditioning can feel like a solo sport for example. It’s deceptive. The process can lead you to believe it’s all about you. The Ego loves to seduce with delusions of specialness and big breaks. But each character, each role, each scene is merely a piece of a larger world, and your job is to play nice with the others. The key to a fulfilling and harmonious collaboration is a common purpose. Yoga calls the idea that each of us is born with a unique purpose dharma. Dharma is why you’re here and it’s said that when we live our dharma, we’re in harmony with the cosmos. It’s not selfish to be who you are, follow your passion, and live your dream. It’s necessary and vital. Much like each one of us has a personal or individual dharma, we also share a collective dharma. The Yogis remind us we are dual. The purpose of our life, our body, and what is manifest is to serve the unmanifest.
Creating and art is the epitome of this relationship. Our unique, individual purpose is to be in communication with our imagination, our essence, and our soul, and allow that to guide us in creating and manifesting. Our bodies will then take all the action so the inspiration becomes manifest. The manifestation is in service of the inspiration.
Collectively we have the same purpose. In collaboration, we’re meant to bring forth the unique desires and ideas of our muses and blend them with others to create something new and beautiful. The creative process is amplified. The impact of the art is then amplified. Each muse brings a piece of the puzzle and a masterpiece is crafted.
Looking back at auditions, the person you need the most in your audition is your reader. They’re your ally and your co-creator. You must audition in such a way that you’re making it their audition to book, not yours. You must be more interested in accessing and serving their muse than any other aim. You must know who they are by the end of the reading. If you’re busy trying to impress the casting director, you’ve served the wrong master.
Magic is uncovered in relating. Great acting serves relationship. Your muse wants someone to play with, fight with, and feel with. Even a bad reader is a gift. Perhaps an even bigger gift than a great reader. Nothing will motivate the muse more than making it her mission to connect. When someone has their head in the paper or their awareness in their head you, get the gift of using that disconnection to raise your stakes. You’re there to connect. You’re there to give your reader the best audition of their life. Imagine the camera is actually turned around on them. You’re not even being filmed. Show up for them and watch what shows up in you.
The miracle of collaboration is it remedies self-consciousness. When you’re focused on bringing something to life with someone else you can no longer be preoccupied watching yourself work or judging your process. You move from self-consciousness to self-awareness and then to universal consciousness and that’s where the real juice is.
True collaboration is surrendering our vision as the “right” one. We are willing to sacrifice our vision for the emergence of a collective one. It’s a practice. Ego wants to win. We must be willing to look at our collaborators, especially the ones we have the most disagreement and tension with and be willing to know that the secret of success for this project was divided up and dropped into each person’s hands or head in pieces. Without each other, you’ll only tell part of the story. Even and especially the ideas you resist, carry gold for you. Consider everything. Accept before you reject and watch something unfold that is bigger than what your single awareness can hold.
Every scene partner, collaborator, director, and reader is your partner. They’ll annoy you and they’re supposed to. You can thank them later. They’re doing their job. Now you get to do yours. You get to show up and say you’re willing to put the project over your individual personality. You get to be the type of artist where everyone who works with you feels seen and heard and valued. You’ll be highly sought after. That’s what being an A-Lister is all about. You don’t create a life small enough to keep you from tension and conflict, only working with those who “get you” or are “easy.” You become the space where art is made and the bigger the personalities, the bigger the tension and often, the bigger the triumph.
As Henry Ford said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”
Ready to collaborate? Apply to casting calls on Backstage!
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.