Sunday, December 26, 2010

Everything I Need to Know About Life I Learned from "High School Musical"

You may have heard something of this Disney product. It's the 800-pound Gorilla of youth theater these days. Every theater program ends up doing it -- even though the directors, music directors, and all the experienced theater students hate the beast, the younger kids want nothing else and cry and pull out of the classes until the program caves in and lets them do that show. It's Disney Crack for preteens who have grown out of Disney Princesses.

Anyhow, in the spirit of several popular books, here's the list of what I've learned about the theater and about the world from Disney's High School Musical.

10: Bring your leading man (or leading lady) to auditions. The gang at the table isn't there to work up a cast; they want you to come already paired up.

9: It's required to sing a song from the show at open auditions. Bad luck for you if you don't know it already. On the other hand, for callbacks you can sing anything you like. It's fine to bring your own backing tracks to auditions, too. The supplied pianist is just for the poor people who didn't think of getting their friend to make something up in MIDI.

8: We don't do scenes at callbacks or auditions either. What, did you think this was theater or something? Put those monologues aside -- just sing.

7: Voice training is for sissies. It's okay to practice your basketball game, though.

6: In fact, there's nothing in theater that actually requires training. Raw talent can substitute. A good face and a song in your heart trumps four years of studying acting, memorizing scenes, learning dance, training your voice, etc.

5: Actually, nothing requires training. Okay, maybe basketball. No need to actually study anything. The people who are good at a subject are boring. Good people, the right kind of people, just have to have heart. Then they'll do better at something than those who have made it their life.

4: Nerds are weird people who know all sorts of science and history, AND like to read all the time. No, there's no connection. The books are just a nerds thing, like the glasses with the tape on them. Nerds come into the world already knowing the speeches of Churchill, the poetry of Dickinson, the length of all the major American rivers and the entire Periodic Table. No, they don't specialize, either.

3: Clubs, in fact, are for people who already know the subject. No-one ever comes to high school to learn something new. No-one joins a Chess Club wanting to learn chess. No, everything is status quo. Clubs, and classes, are just handy boxes for people who are already good at a subject (but see above!)

2: But what did I say about the specific skills of the theater craft? There aren't any. Anyone with a good face and an open heart will make a great actor. All the other departments; lead stitchers, charge artists, sound engineers, directors, scenic designers, electricians, musicians, choreographers, all wanted to be actors but failed. So the fresh-faced kid off the street could do a better job designing the lighting plot of a Broadway Show than the embittered forty-year-old professional designer, too -- it's even easier than being the leading man (or leading lady).

1: Never give up your dreams. In fact, never give up anything. Sacrifices are for wimps. Just procrastinate and sigh and cry and eventually the world will figure out a way for you to have your cake and eat it, too. There is never a need to make a choice, especially a tough choice. Just do everything you want to do, and make the rest of the world get out of your way.

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