You Got It???"
The statement "Oh, yes.
They're very talented," is often heard and is seldom challenged
or explored. It is taken for granted as a simple indisputable
fact that talent is something that individuals are simply lucky
enough to have. But what is talent? What does it really mean?
And how do we know if we have it?
Pausing to think about the
issue for a moment provokes a huge number of interesting questions
- What of the child, who from
an early age takes every opportunity to perform and is immediately
identified as talented? Does this mean that talent is genetic
- a component that you have to be born with or you will never
be able to acquire it? (THEY'VE GOT IT!)
- If so, how do we explain the
actor who has diligently and committedly worked hard at their
acting all their life while everyone has judged them as hopeless
(talentless) and suddenly at 65 they begin doing great work.
Have they suddenly acquired talent? Maybe talent is something
that can be 'grown into'! (SLOWLY THEY'VE GOT IT!)
- Or what of the child actor
who was seen to be incredibly talented but come the age of thirteen
is categorized as unhirable? (HAVEN'T GOT IT ANY MORE) Does this
mean that talent is transient, ephemeral, magical and indefinable?
- And what of those with such
extraordinary talents that they find it impossible to live comfortably
with their abilities and destroy their lives through drugs or
alcohol? Is talent an unmanageable, uncontrollable monster? (GOT
- While sometimes an actor in
training appears to have little ability and after working hard
not only becomes proficient but in fact ends up being extremely
good? (GOT SOMETHING
AND IT'S GOOD!) Does that mean that
there is no such thing as talent? Is it all just to do with how
much you know? Or how much you practice?
Let's go back to basics.
A quick dip into the Oxford Dictionary is not much help
"Special aptitude, faculty, gift; high mental ability."
But still the questions exist.
Members of The Rehearsal Room
provided the following thoughts on 'talent' ...
"A unique or original
way of entertaining an audience."
"A form of acting that
"Talent is a WAY that
"Is being different or
new or the same"
"Talent can be seen as
a measurement. It is a thing that you use to see yourself
In order to see your own talent you need confidence and self-awareness."
"It's the trust in yourself
to do it"
"Talent has a history
- a history in genes, in memory and in consciousness."
It would seem the word 'talent'
is evocative of many things but still we cannot pragmatically
place it in a practical usable context. So, is it magical and
In the world of entertainment those who have to literally produce
"magic" performances work in a world of "illusion".
The illusionist creates the appearance of a reality but it is
in fact a trick. The trick has a process, a methodology which
allows it to deliver the "illusion" to an audience
night after night. So, is talent an illusion? Perhaps it is.
If so what is the trick that delivers it.
Perhaps audiences identify
performers as talented when they sense high quality but can't
simply understand or can't identify the methodology which explains
such an outcome - so it appears magical.
Or perhaps when a performer
or actor unconsciously achieves the appropriate methodology then
this is described as being talented - which in fact it is. For
having such faith in ones self, that knowledge and experience
are less important than intuitive impulses, is an unusual character
trait. There are so many elements in our psyche that generate
self-doubts that most people have difficulty solely trusting
their intuition. As an actor, to be able to succeed at this requires
remarkable self-confidence - that's a talent.
However, one reason that it is hard to arrive at a satisfactory
and practical definition of the concept of 'talent' in an actor
is because in the end it doesn't mean very much to the practical
outcome of a performance. Some talented people perform well and
some badly. But, if talent doesn't always guarantee a good outcome
there is a quite specific list of other things that can definitely
be seen to contribute to the creation of a good performance.
If those ingredients are in place the outcome will be recognized
as good acting. One significant contributor to a good methodology
working effectively is 'self-confidence'. Generally an actor
who understands the methodology and is confident to use it will
do well. So, perhaps self-confidence is the key to being 'talented'.
Do You Have It or Not?
Either way, if an actor delivers a story that the audience understands,
believes and enjoys - then the audience will come back for more.
And perhaps they may also label the actors as "talented".
But if talent is ephemeral and hard to define, story is not.
Everyone can recognize a well-told story and a truthful performance.
So stop worrying about the ephemeral - let's get on with dealing
with the 'identifiable' and delivering the 'achievable'. Let's
have 'em coming back for more.
With thanks to Frieda McKenna,
Damian Andrews and Paul O'Brien.
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Room 2003. All rights Reserved.
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