An introduction to student projects on Associated Studios Musical Theatre courses by Principal Leontine Hass.

 The projects the Musical Theatre students are working on this term have been carefully devised by me and Vocal Coach Scott Harrison. I am sharing some of these with you as they are as relevant to every performing artist.

 Although our objective at Associated Studios is to develop you in your skill sets (Acting, Dance, Singing) to the best of your ability, succeeding in the Performing Arts is also about your personal journey. These projects aim to enhance your awareness of your own journey and the mental skill set you need to acquire and develop in order to survive a tough industry and enjoy the ride. Positive life skills are as important as an alive and hungry creativity, a keen investigative mind-set regarding material, repertoire, music and creative projects, and a disciplined commitment to your own development which includes your own practice, research, mental and physical health and engagement in self-entrepreneurship. The Projects throughout the term aim to support you in this.

One of the books Scott Harrison recommended as a ‘core’ text, is The Hero with a Thousand Faces. I wanted to write to you in advance to introduce you to this wonderful book. The first 30 pages are not an easy read. Do persevere! A side note is that I spoke to one of our Acting Coaches Robert Fried about this book. Robert mentioned that a book called ‘The Golden Bough’ pre-dated this book and is a seminal work on comparative mythology and religion written by Sir James George Frazer around 1890. If you are excited by The Hero with a Thousand Faces, you could explore further.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces was written by Joseph Campbell, first published in 1949. It discusses the journey of the ‘archetypal’ hero or ‘the hero’s journey’ as found in many of the world’s myths (extend this to the stories in shows, operas and songs). Campbell’s premise is that ‘stories’ often share a fundamental structure which he refers to as the ‘monomyth’. The book has inspired countless artists including song writers, authors and film makers. As performers, we are in the business of being story tellers. How these stories all link us to the fundamental nature of what it is to be human, and the personal journeys we all share, no matter what religion, race or background, is what is so interesting about Campbell’s premise.  The book speaks to art, creativity and culture. It also speaks to what unites us, in that we all embark on a road full of trials and are tested along the way. As artists we tell stories of ‘the hero’s journey. As human beings we live it ourselves. We are not separate from the characters we play. They are us. We go through struggles, adventures and inner conflicts and eventually we become adults who stop asking for approval. We develop from students into artists. A great show/opera/story inspires us to believe that we can use our inner resources to improve and overcome challenges, go beyond the limits of our possibilities. Theatre is a metaphor for life. Songs are metaphors for a transformation process. Courage is not lack of fear, it is facing it. As performers in training, when you stand up to sing and are in fear of being judged, remember this.

I think it would be very helpful for you all to watch a few You Tube episodes related this book either before or during reading it. It will put everything in context for you.

Here are my suggestions:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1Zxt28ff-E

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjPzt9tQ2HY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RchePX5gElc

 I hope this has been a helpful if brief introduction.

 Leontine Hass