Dan Callaway

Act | Sing | Teach | Write

Outstanding work stands out

You know what it’s like to emerge from a massive undertaking that requires ongoing focus and repetitive actions.

That was last semester’s end-of-term grading load when I got to teach one of my favorite courses: Music Theatre Literature.

Imagine show tunes and plots interleaved with discussions of societal issues, musical motifs, and chromaticism. Party.

So, I’m trucking along. Everyone’s doing solid work. They learned the things, and I’m really happy to see they’re using the tools. Check.

My eyes begin to cross; diminished chords, foreshadowing, and internal rhyme all start to sound like choruses of Mariah belting “All I Want for Christmas Is You” on that radio station that plays holiday music on the same day in October that Target decks the aisles with wreathes and tinsel.

Digress.

Then, y’all. I get to one project. I’m three-quarters through all this grading.

I start reading, and suddenly I am a thirteen-year-old girl circa 2006 with my copy of Twilight reading through the night because I don’t care if I have to be alert for pre-algebra at 7:55. Jacob!

Hand on my heart, this final project was nuts. Nuts.

I will leave out details to protect the brilliant, but this analysis of an oft-discounted Sondheim musical was a page turner.

The author integrated deep research, passion for the piece, compelling argument for its place in the canon, and colorful visual aids.

Nothing makes my professorial heart palpitate like an excavated motif in a neat, blue PDF-editor box.

Y’all. This. Was. Outstanding. I get chills when I remember this student’s work.

When I finished reading it, I cried. (Hello Enneagram 4.)

Then I emailed this student with the subject, “Your Final”

The commitment, passion, excellence, and heart that went into this final project impacted me on a deep level.

Move this experience into the audition room.

Put yourself in the shoes of any table-person who sees capable auditioner after capable auditioner come in the room, sing their song, read their sides, and leave.

Enter the artist who brings deep work, preparation, authentic point of view, and an open heart into the room, and there is a change.

When we prepare for an audition, we prepare for ourselves as artists. We prepare for our own satisfaction. We prepare so that we know that when we leave the room, we have done our best work for that moment.

The outcome of that is, has been, and always will be out of our hands.

Insert here every story of the actor who did excellent work in a room, didn’t book the job, but the table person remembered them for a later project that was perfect for them.

If you bring your kind, open, listening, adjustable, prepared body into the room, take it from where you are, and share the excellent work for that day, you can go about your day with a full, satisfied coziness in your guts.

You will also have given a fellow human something beautiful to carry with them that day.

It’s never a guaranteed job, but I can guarantee you that if you stay the course with excellent work, the jobs will come.

Table-people will talk to other table-people, and enthusiastic momentum will build around your contribution as a storyteller.

What can you go do right now to prepare to give your excellent, satisfying gift? You got five minutes? That’s enough to personalize one line of text.

Go! Do it! 🙂

Footnote: I’ll write another missive soon about what prepared means to me.

Now go! 🙂

2 Comments

  1. Love the blog!<3

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