I was at an open call audition the other day for student film projects at Boston University, and as I was sitting in this big room with dozens of other actors waiting for their call time, I suddenly wanted to laugh. Here we all were, with a passion for acting, for storytelling, and the courage to show up and be seen. And yet, and YET- we were all there because we were asking someone's permission to be granted a part in a creative project. That's what auditioning is, essentially, right? It's showing up, doing your best, all to try and convince a director or casting team that you have the talent and work ethic worthy enough to be chosen to play the part. Right? This doesn't sound very DIY to me.
Don't get me wrong. I like auditioning, and have all the respect in the world for the skills it takes to walk in, nail an audition, and book the part. But I am becoming more and more aware that auditioning seems to go against what I truly believe about being a creative being: that it shouldn't involve waiting to be granted permission to practice your craft. That being creative is a right all of us are entitled to, and expressing ourselves shouldn't require a "Pass Go" card. Think about it in a different context: if you found yourself wanting to learn to bake the best apple pie you could, would you wait to be called by the Food Network executives? Or would you roll up your sleeves, gather your ingredients, and dive in?
I had a small theatre company in Virginia, an all women's troupe who performed regularly at a local art gallery space we got to use for a very low cost. It was scary and thrilling to dive in, to not wait for permission, to essentially, DIY. The troupe was small, but our enthusiasm was unmatched, and it remains one of the most meaningful creative experiences of my life so far.
Now, I know I have read many articles and opinion pieces discouraging theatre folk from forming a new company or making your own work. "Not being able to get cast in anything doesn't justify starting your own company", or "This city has enough companies, who are you to think you have something new to offer?" I respectfully and passionately disagree with the sentiments above for many reasons. I have been cast in many roles over the past decade, but you know what? I've ended up turning a number of them down because they aren't the kind of material I feel deeply invested in; they lack a certain something I feel that I need in order to do my best work. Secondly, who says there needs to be a limit on the number of creative ideas floating around out there? We would never tell an aspiring musician not to bother writing his own songs because "There's enough music out there already".
All this is to say: Do It Yourself. I have been so inspired recently by the number of amazing artists I have the privilege to know that have started Doing It Themselves. This kind of courage has resulted in new companies being formed, self-published novels, small businesses, variety shows, musical gigs, you name it. Hats off to you. I hope you know who you are; you keep me going on this creative climb every day!
Creativity doesn't color inside the lines all the time, so stop waiting to be given permission. DIY!
What are you waiting for permission to do? Alternately, what have you taken the DIY leap with and how did it feel?