For my recent audition for another McGill musical, I chose to do a comedic monologue for the first time in my life. And I performed it with a Southern accent, which I had never tried doing before. Since I have little experience with either accents or comedy, I would normally stay away from trying something so novel, especially when the goal is to try to get a part in a show with this monologue, so why did I do it? Why didn’t I do something that was safe and that I knew I could do?
Well, the first part of the answer comes from my vocal coach, who has been helping me to sing all of these different styles of rock music for the med school rock band that I’m in (in preparation for the med talent show at the end of May), and she forced me to realize that the essence of rock music is freedom and authenticity and not having a right answer or following the rules all the time. I am, for the most part, a classically-trained singer, so it has always been about technical precision and perfect control of my voice. My mentor, however, got me to understand that if I am to be any good at rock music (and this includes Zeppelin, AC/DC, the Beatles, etc.), I need to be able to let go of trying to be perfect and focus on having fun and enjoying the beat and the rhythm and just being the music.
My job was to have fun, and it really was freeing to take risks with my voice. I surprised myself multiple times at what I could do. I sounded like a completely different vocalist than my usual musical theatre routine, and it sounded authentic. I realized that I never bothered trying to sing rock because I didn’t think I could do it, and I had no idea how much fun I was missing out on.
Through the process, there are times when I kind of relate to Natalie Portman in the Black Swan, because to be “perfect”, she had to let go of the notion that there is perfection. She had to learn to let herself be and feel the art. But the comparison here is pretty stretched, because I am not that talented of an artist, and I am nowhere near perfect.
In any case, the second incident that pushed me to try a comedic monologue with an accent for the first time in my life was also in preparation for the talent show. We have been filming some skits to be played at the talent show, and it has been one of the best experiences of my life, because essentially we spent a sunny day running around outside, acting in and filming ridiculous scenarios and looking marvelously silly. It was a bunch of friends joking around, giving each other new ideas on how to make something funnier or better in another way, and making films for no other reason than because it’ll be an awesome addition to the talent show, and we want to put on an amazing show because all the money we raise will go to the Starlight Foundation. Because all the deadlines and expectations were self-imposed, we were free to enjoy the process of creativity, and basically just laughed a lot and produced some great scenes. It made me realize that comedy is just about taking risks and going big and being silly and not being afraid of making a complete fool of yourself, and most importantly, having the time of your life doing it.
The combination of these recent events allowed me to realize that I don’t know whether I will get into the musical that I’m auditioning for, but I do have a chance to perform and try something completely new and different with the audition monologue. It’s the only opportunity that’s guaranteed right now, so why not leverage it to challenge myself?
More importantly, this past week has shown me the incredible potential rewards of taking risks and letting myself enjoy being in the moment of the art rather than constantly pondering what I want the art to achieve. The art will speak for itself and it is an untameable beast that others will take what they want from it. All I have control over is just being present when I’m in the moment, which, funnily enough, usually contributes to good art.
I learned the joys of letting myself look silly and act silly, and I know now that I have amazing friends who will do it with me, and who will support me every step of the way. So why the heck not?
And how do I get good at something, anyway, if I’m not actually willing to get my hands dirty and just do it?
But most importantly, if I’m not having fun singing rock music or auditioning for a show, then what’s the point? I do performing art because it’s my escape from medicine. If I’m so worried about getting the part in a musical that I’m not even having fun in the process, what is the freaking point?