Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Discretion Is Advised

As we enter the most public portion of our annual cycle, I refer you to a post of a few months ago on Arts Addict: Losing My Anonymity. Jason is a working orchestral musician with a highly successful blog, and he discusses the challenges of balancing transparency with discretion.

I've been blogging for over 3 years, and every few months the landscape changes. During my first season in the blogosphere, I was extremely cautious. Never used names, always asked permission before discussing almost anything or posting a photo of anyone. I still err on the side of discretion, but the dividing line has shifted.

Many bloggers have only found out that they've overstepped that line after the damage has been done. There are no rules except common sense and courtesy, and everyone has a different frame of reference. I've never been "anonymous" in any way, but the people I work with all summer and those I hear in audition every fall have every right to their privacy. Yet the success of blogs like this one depends on honesty and transparency.

So, if you're an artist about to spend your summer at the Trap, or if you have a friend or loved one who will be here this season, what can you expect? If you're an opera fan who checks out this space for inside scoop, will you really get it? Well, it's an overstatement to say that I have guidelines for these things, but here's a bit of the logic behind it:

Opt Out: Most of our artists and staff know about the blog. We make sure everyone understands that I'm posting regularly through the season, and I give folks a chance to opt out of any mention in this forum.

Photos: Performance and/or dress rehearsal photos are fair game. Other rehearsal photos and candids are case-by-case. If it's not the least bit controversial and it's flattering, I'll probably just go ahead and use it. It it's sensitive or personal in any way, and/or if it makes anyone look bad, I ditch it. If I'm not sure, I ask. (I'm the most camera-phobic person I know, and I'm sympathetic. It's probably why I prefer being on this side of the lens.)

Anecdotes: Humorous stories that don't put anyone in a compromising position are gold. Even so, I almost never use real names, and sometimes change a few details to protect the innocent.

Verboten: Unfortunately, some of the most illuminating events are emotionally charged and fraught with anxiety. Occasionally there's a way to address the substance of these events later, and in a context that protects anonymity. But many of those stories, no matter how compelling, will always remain private.

Ready Or Not

I didn't intend to take a blog mini-vacation recently, but I've been remiss. I was waylaid by a host of impending season-related non-blog-worthy tasks, a big volunteer project at my son's school, and taking care of some family business before I go underground for 4 months. But I'll be back next week (the official start of rehearsals!!) with entries every few days throughout the summer.

Postscript: Practice Makes Perfect

One of the most difficult things to get across to an aspiring performing artist is the importance of rehearsal. Not just quantity, but quality. It's not enough to think about practicing, and it's not much better to do it without energy, context and intention. The only way to perform well and consistently under pressure is to prepare for it thoughtfully and creatively.

So, I will take my own advice for once. I hereby practice.


"Sorry, but I can't."

"No, thanks."

"Wish I could help, but I can't."


"Thanks for asking - hope you can find someone else."


"Uh... no."

OK, maybe the next time I have to perform under pressure, I will have some rehearsal on my side. And I won't be in the same sorry state I ended up in this spring.

Amidst the spring chaos, City of Angels was rewarding, exhausting, and memorable. Thanks for holding it together on several fronts at once, Ben. :)


Sean said...

Ah! Your back! I love it. Great insight about rehearsal. It perfect time to hear that right now as the final 3 week stretch of memorization kicks in.

DesperateOperawife said...

Great to see you back. Love the post...and trying not to be the wife who says something that will get hubby fired!

I've tagged you for a meme if you are interested.