Performance v. Appearance

As many of you know, I’m on twitter (@aleciabatson) and I tweet regularly. A few days ago, a big name talent agent—an American talent agent—tweeted something to the effect of, “white teeth are preferred; whiten your teeth.” This tweet has been grating upon me.  Why would a talent agent encourage superficial beauty over quality of talent and caliber of technique? Why not foster an environment (or a twitter feed) wherein each actor is nurtured individually to become her/his best at her/his craft? I’m quite certain this agent isn’t solely peddling toothpaste and mouthwash models.

Who is steering the boat here? The talent agent? Is the talent agent acquiescing to production demands for the perception of perfection? Or public expectations that those who appear on screen should appear unattainably flawless? Who exactly is generating and promulgating the concept that actors who are seen on screen must be pristine, plastic-looking, and unrealistic, and why should

When to Stop Trying?

Earlier this week someone remarked to me that I might not be cast in roles because, “Perhaps you’re trying too hard.”  I’ve been pondering this remark for a few days now.  Given that any audition is essentially a job interview, is it possible to try too hard?  Would one ever say to a jobless individual who hasn’t been receiving invitations to interview for jobs to which they’ve applied—or who hasn’t been receiving job offers despite interviewing—that, “Perhaps you’re trying too hard”?  I would think some jobseekers might be offended by such a statement.  Would one hire another because s/he has put forth little to no effort in the interview process?

What constitutes “trying too hard”?  My knowledge, experience, and education tell me that I should:

• arrive to every audition a few minutes before my scheduled appointment;
• always have at least one current headshot and résumé;
• have any sides memorized or copy rehearsed

The Musical Consequence of Who I Am

Recently, the New York Times published a call for reader experiences in ArtsBeat entitled, What Inspired You to Work in Classical Music? A selection were chosen for inclusion with an essay by Anthony Tommasini, It All Started With a Toy Piano. The inquiry spurred my own thoughts about how I became a musician. Here follows my rumination on the matter.

To me, classical music and inspiration are corollaries. There is no distinct event in my life that inspired music performance as a career choice per se. I am a product of experience.

One of my earliest books was Richard Scarry’s Mein allerschönstes Wörterbuch, which introduced me to German and French at age three while living in a Spanish-speaking city. I had been given recordings of Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, Op. 34, Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, Op. 67, and the original Broadway cast recording

Reinstating Responsibility

It’s no secret I haven’t blogged in six months. They’ve been an educational and defining six months, but therein lies another blog post for another time–or perhaps a novel. During this period, I’ve given considerable thought to the purpose of blogging. My friend, Mo, once remarked that he didn’t think it was prudent for the title of my blog to be “Professional Auditionee“, indicating that such a title could imply to readers that I am not a professional or do not have a career. However, I believe the majority of the public only perceives two paths for those working in the arts: poverty or extraordinary wealth. These are the two stories commonly repeated in news media and pseudo-news media, and few realize there is a large portion of those working in artistic fields that exist between these two dichotomous perspectives. We haven’t got roles in weekly TV series (yet) or large roles in