Musicians Can Learn From Actors

Cast member of Farragut North, a local play, says bands can do better

I love watching bands as much as everyone else, but a musician’s live performance shouldn’t inspire a round of bile-soaked vitriol and heckle.

Unfortunately it sometimes does. No one wants to pay any amount of money to be both deafened and bored. In fact, I’ve willingly dished out shameful amounts of cash to have my eardrums blown out – it was never boring. But insofar that people generally pay money to alleviate boredom, it’s a fucking shame that there are so many tepid bands out there.

Admittedly I’ve wanted to stage-shame a lead singer into moving their hips a little. I also want to be tickled and amused by a fey wink from a bass player or growled at by a sweaty drummer.

If an up-and-coming band could infuse a tiny bit of drama into their live show then they would be giving an audience more of a reason to come check out their show. You don’t need to breathe fire or do backflips, but it would be nice if you looked away from your guitar every now and then.

Starting this Thursday, Oct. 18, Heather Morrison, a Saskatoon-based thespian, will be helping to open Farragut North, a play that details a “tight presidential primary” and a “meteoric rise” being “threatened by the backroom maneuverings of more seasoned operatives.” Sounds like a delightful romp, so you would be well advised to go check it out.

For more info on Farragut North CLICK HERE.

Morrison, however, has some very serious advice for any musician who disagrees that there is a clear relation between acting onstage and plunking on a guitar in front of an audience.

No one likes a loafer

“Musicians are performers just as much as actors,” says Morrison. “It doesn’t matter how hungover or stressed out you are, you have to perform at a consistent level of excellence. You owe that to your audience. You should never allow yourself to become bored or complacent. With theatre, if a show becomes repetitive, we try to infused new life by approaching it with a different point of view (like all of a sudden your character’s secretly in love with someone onstage). It makes it more fun for the performer and, as a result, the audience has more fun too. In short: being onstage is a privilege. Always give it everything you got.”

Sing like no one cares

“Have an arc and think of the whole concert as a play,” says Morrison. “You want to have a climax and an ending. And a third act push. Because you need to wake people up with a really good song. People are sleepy before the intermission.”

Get confident stupid

“Everyone wants to play Hamlet, but you have to learn how to make it your own. Finding a personal connection to make your own interpretation. Commitment is key. Plus someone who is only partially attractive can just put everything into a performance and the girls will walk away thinking who is that. And they will have crushes on them for two years. Mumford and Sons are hideous but they are really attractive when they play because they put so much of themselves into their performance.”

They may not be laughing with you…

“Work the crowd,” advises Morrison. “You can’t do the same show every time. In theatre the audience feedback determines the course of the play. In a comedy we control when the crowd is ready to laugh, and sometimes we stretch out as long as we can. Pay attention to the audience because they are half of the performance.

“Also, it doesn’t matter what you feel. If your audience doesn’t feel anything then you didn’t do your job.”

Helps who?

“Creative moments onstage will also help people remember you. There is a choreography to what actors do that help make these moments. Think about when singers share a mic even though they don’t have to. Those small things help with the show.

“Rocking a pair of tights and a fake British accent also helps.”

Featured photo via Flickr user Loungerie, Creative Commons.