Vancouver is OK by me! Dramatically speaking. I am very grateful to Canada and Vancouver for being so welcoming to me professionally. I have always had work in this relatively small and not theatre-centric town and I am truly thankful for that. I have always been treated with respect and have been proud of almost all that I have been involved with here. I have seen some amazing shows and performances by local actors both on stage and on film. However, I trained in London and have travelled quite a lot and seen many productions all over the world. And in the end, if you are in the theatre, it is very difficult to compare a city like Vancouver with a city like London or New York. There is simply a gravitational pull from those giant artistic galaxies that attracts and holds the brightest stars of the industry. And as much as the quality of your work shouldn't really be affected by where you are and I have tried at all times to give full value to my work and demand a standard from myself as well as the people i work with, I often wonder whether we (or me, really) are slipping behind the rest of the world or losing our edge - theatrically speaking. And after recently attending an Adam Guettel musical theatre preformance masterclass, if I am honest with myself I think that we probably are. Quite a lot. This should be a depressing thought. But remarkably I am anything but depressed after my experiences with this wonderful man and his extraordinary masterclass.
Right from the opening minutes of the session, his introduction before anyone had really sung anything and before we really even got going it was clear that this man had a knowledge, a depth, an experience and a simple immersion in his craft that went far beyond anything available to us here in Vancouver. I have worked with some amazing directors here, wonderful musical directors as well and excellent performers too but here was an attention to detail, and to different details, that was not present or available to me here in Vancouver and probably not to anyone outside of London or New York. Everyone in the room felt it and consequently everyone was immediately petrified to get up and sing for him. These are seasoned performers at the top of the industry, some teachers even, but we knew immediately that just to present this man with something worth critiquing meant we would all have to "level up" and fast.
Like all the truly talented creative people I have met - the real ones, Adam Guettel was surprisingly gracious, charming and all about the work. He was totally honest, uncompromising and blunt about where we could improve but I don't think anyone felt anything other than encouraged, recharged and grateful for his comments. Every so often (and very rarely I have found) you encounter an idea, a book or a person that sends your mind to the gym. Makes you feel like your brain is growing and expanding with knowledge and ideas that you just didn't know about or couldn't really take in before. It is very rare but this was definitely one of those. It was three hours that went by in a moment but more than anything else I have done in years it is an afternoon that I find my mind returning to and considering and endeavouring to use.
I was really on the fence about going to the masterclass because ...well if I am honest ... probably a combination of laziness and fear. But having gone I think I learned more from that afternoon than almost anything else I have done since leaving college. It made me nervous, excited,and awed and it reminded me of the level of commitment to craft and to art that is needed if we are to keep the public engaged in the theatre. It reminded me how beautiful and special the theatre is and why I love it. It was a very special day and if I were asked by any young actor or singer what would make them a better performer I would tell them to take that class. I can honestly say that I had no idea how important it was for me to attend and how valuable I think it would be to have more classes, more teachers and more exposure at that level.
In closing I think that it is always easy to parrot the mantra of all artistic communities everywhere wisdom of to the was the closest I have been to the way theatre should feel leaving college many years ago, it is flash and if we wanted to Before any critiques, advice or tecahing whatsoever teaching us anything at all, before imparting any direct criticism or useful tips or