by Philip Cuomo
Recently, I facilitated a conversation with a group of artists at Post5 Theatre as part of the first annual Outdoor ShakespeareFestival.
The artists at Post5 asked me to talk about how an emerging theatre artist moves beyond their training into the professional world. Like good acting, the answer is simple but not easy: perseverance and practice.
Perseverance is about the commitment to a lifelong body of work. Practice refers to the discipline of doing - like a yoga instructor who reminds you of poses to do and ways to challenge yourself in your “daily practice.” In order to succeed as an artist, in any discipline, one must do the work - the practice - and commit to that practice in the long term. Persevere in that practice.
|54 West 22nd Street|
Former home of Theatre 22
and Sydney Armus
Sydney owned and lived at Theatre 22. His bed was in a loft above the office desk.
A few years after working at the small theatre, I ran into Sydney on the street and said, “Sydney! How are you doing? How’s the…how’s the…”
In his deep resonating voice, trained and practiced in Broadway theatres, he interrupted me: “’How’s the career,’ Philip? Do you mean to ask me, ‘How’s the career?’”
“Philip, you and I, we don’t have careers, we have lifestyles.”
I heard that and completely understood. Here was a man in his sixties who was a successful and committed professional actor, who had chosen a life in the theatre. He devoted his time and pledged his energy to the practice of theatre. He lived in a theatre – it was his place – not his workplace.
His lifestyle exemplified the sacrifice and dedication required of anyone, in any discipline, who is an artist.
This is part one of a multi-part series on Bridging the Gap: Educational Theatre to Professional Theatre, by Portland Actors Conservatory Executive Director Philip Cuomo.