YOU CAN’T BE IN SIX PLACES AT ONCE
How to tame the six-headed beast of the burlesque artist.
There is so much to do, and it feels almost impossible to get any of it done!!!! And all the while, yet MORE tasks seem to keep getting added to your list until you are paralysed into complete in-action.
This phenomenon arises in many other creative areas and indeed in many careers, but I have never felt it more strongly than when creating a solo burlesque act.
Even worse, I think this is a phenomenon that most beginners just DO NOT EXPECT! Which makes the whole experience even more overwhelming. Rather than shrivel up and suffocate in the overwhelm, wishing you could some how clone yourself in order to get everything done, learn how to..
YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS
WHY IS THE OVERWHELM SO STRONG???
Creating an act is a mixture between developing and polishing, imagining and manifesting. I’m drawing from my experience of a devised theatre background, rather than a scripted theatre background.
Rather than a writer writing the piece (or a choreographer choreographing a piece) and then passing it onto the actor or dancer to rehearse and polish, when you create a burlesque act, you’re fulfilling BOTH roles… AT THE SAME TIME!!!
In fact, throughout your act creation you’re fulfilling ALL the roles of Writer, Performer, Director, Costumer, Music Composer AND Producer…
IT’S A LOT TO TAKE ON…
And… some parts of the brain that are great at some of these roles are totally disruptive to the skills required for the other roles.
How can your creative brain think.. “Ooh I could end the act by releasing doves into sky”.. when your Producer brain is saying ..”how the hell am I supposed to get hold of and pay for a dozen doves and what venue would even allow it??!”.
EMBRACE A SPLIT-PERSONALITY
You need to allow your creative brain the time to go and explore without judgement… to play, to imagine. Then, SWITCH ROLES and allow your producer brain to look through your creative brain’s notes and figure out logistically how to make that idea, (or at least the essence of that idea) possible.
I know for some actors when rehearsing devised theatre, they can’t concentrate on rehearsing and polishing the scenes they’ve already worked on because they panic, not knowing how the piece is going to end and yet knowing they have a show booked in three weeks time! They’re used to having the finished script there in front of them and having a solid idea of how much work is ahead.
The best advice I can give you is to try to FULLY SWITCH from one role to another during the entire process.
When being the Writer and Creator of your act, exploring all the possibilities, it’s not your role as Director to worry about how polished the performance is or as a Producer to worry about how much time or money sourcing a particularly prop will take. Letting these roles stick their head in will only distract you from the task at hand.
Pick a role and run with it until you have completed that role’s tasks. For example choose to spend a couple hours in ‘development mode’ where your sole purpose is to explore and create. During this ‘development mode’ keep a note pad next to you. When ideas regarding props or costume come up, don’t get distracted and start researching them, WRITE IT DOWN. If you start working on floor work and then panic about whether it will work with the venue’s sight-lines – WRITE IT DOWN. If you suddenly have an idea of changing the beginning of your music, or suddenly remember that you haven’t sent your music to the show producer – don’t run off and do it, WRITE IT DOWN.
ANYTHING that distracts from being in development mode write it down so you can stay in the “Actor/Writer role”. Treat the process as if you have a team of five other people who are fulfilling the other roles, and write it down for THEM to deal with later.
If during this rehearsal session, you find yourself at a creative ‘writer’s block’, THAT’S the time to let the ‘writer’ in you leave the room so you the ‘actor’ can use the remaining time to focus purely on just perfecting what has already been created, to give your creative mind a bit of a break and switch gears.
ALTERNATE BETWEEN ROLES
Schedule your sessions so that every time you work on your act you are switching between your roles, to give each part of your brain a break.
So, when you hit a creative writers wall, and don’t know where the act is going, and you’ve rehearsed the piece as much as can during your session, NOW’S the time to switch to focusing on more tangible things that you CAN be doing in order to get your act show-ready.
Become the Producer and look at the list of things your writer and actor gave you to problem solve during their rehearsal session, source that prop you still haven’t gotten hold of, send your promo photos and music to the booker, promote your show on social media, check on the venue sight-lines and confirm the available entrances and exits.
Then become the Costumer, look at the notes your actor and writer gave you and apply those rhinestones to your costume, find the pieces that are missing, you can let your mind wander as you do so…
BUT MAKE SURE TO STICK TO WHICHEVER ROLE YOU HAVE DECIDED TO EMBRACE FOR THIS PARTICULAR SESSION..
..and if something crops up for the other roles to deal with, write it down so they can deal with it during THEIR next session.
At the end of the day, remember, although creating your act yourself is a rewarding and fulfilling experience, don’t beat yourself up trying to get it all done. There are always things you can outsource, you can always ask a friend to help find that 50’s style radio prop that you’re having an issue finding or ask a fellow burlesquer to help out with some costume design problem you’re finding, hire someone else to edit your music for you, book in a session with me to look over your work so far to give you some ideas of how to get out of your creative block or to polish what you’ve already choreographed.
Yes it’s a solo act but you’re still part of this burlesque community – and we are here to help and support each other.
ABOVE ALL – remember why you started this whole process in the first place and whatever role you’re embracing during your act development, or indeed your everyday life, make sure you’re still having fun!!!