Thursday, 1 September 2011

Talent and Skill: Do We Need Education?

Dancing With Happy Children...Nothing Better!

Please Note: I am talking about the ARTS industry. If you think I'm suggesting that some guy (who is passionate right down to his last nucleus about molecular physics) should practice science without studying… then, ya. M'kay. Talkin' bout the ARTS here ppl! Focus! :o)

Ok,... I have had this debate many times. Is it enough to have raw talent? Is acquired skill more valuable? Does educating kill initiative and innovation? After doing two years of Theology; and realising that I was way too flamboyant for that line of work, I did most of my Music Grades (I enjoyed that a lot) and also attended two years of Music Theory and Practical (I went a bit mad, wore cow hide painted shoes, blue stockings, dyed my hair purple and wrote reams of Latin choral pieces - until my Mother thought she'd lost me for good) in all it was an interesting time in my life – I was as expressively dramatic on the outside as I felt inwardly. These days I dress as a business woman in the Arts should dress, and it doesn't suppress or crush who I AM on the inside.
I have however, had the unpleasant opportunity of working with individuals "in power" who seemed destined to "kill my mojo" or push me down (ever worked with one of those?) they were in a position to enhance me, encourage and motivate but no, they chose the dark path of egotistical doom.

 I have had the incredibly humbling and *fan-friggin-tastic* opportunity of hanging out with, and getting to know, some of South Africa's finest artists. Some of them are hidden gems, others have toured the globe, but their sheer determination and passion for what they do has blown me away. Some of them have studied extensively; they have a passion for backing up their skill with knowledge… other's have just "been in the game" for so long that their skill is unquestionable. I find myself thinking – in these instances, does one actually *have* to study? (I am talking Arts here – dance, drama and performance in general)
I am a case in point: Yes, I did two years of fantastic Drama at Theology College. I then did two years of Music and Theory of Music. Now, I find myself – 12 years later – on the other side of a very busy business launch.
Since 2008 my little theatrical company Paw Paw Productions SA has performed for well over three hundred and fifty thousand (350,000) children and counting. I have had some of KZN's top actors work for me, bringing my scripts and characters to life. I have worked as hard as I could to get this baby off the ground.
But I never studied Drama.

Does that make me a bad Playwright?
Does that make me an awful Director?
Maybe :o(
But I have a skill, and I am passionate, I am willing to learn, I listen when people offer advice or correction, I understand and feel when I am in the presence of someone greater than I am.
Isn't that education?
Today I watched a very dear lady – Portia Chiliza, an Actress who has brought much life to some of my plays, and an incredibly talented Actress, Mpume Mthombeni, well known for her powerful characterisation and ability to interpret any script. I sat and watched these two dynamic individuals act out a very serious play that we are doing – the Road Show launches tomorrow. The play is called THE GAME and tackles the very serious issue of Child Trafficking and Human Slavery. The content is hard to handle. The acting is heart breakingly real.

I sat there with my one year old wriggling on my lap, and marvelled at the combination of Skill and Education that was before me. Whether through Technikon, University or just LIFE – these women were able to bring something to the forefront. In their field they possess SKILL and TALENT.
*sigh* I don't know.

Hope you all don't mind me being honest here! Today my authority as a professional was challenged. I had to decide right there and then if I was REALLY confident in myself, in what I do and in what I stand for – professionalism and honouring my actors and my clients across the board.

Time for a chocolate… but none in the house!

Sandy Bigara
*In the Photo are Nomonde and Chantall from SOCCER STAR 2010

1 comment:

  1. Hey Sandy
    Have you read Malcom Gladwell's book 'Outliers'? He has a very particular answer to this question.
    From my point of view it goes as follows: You HAVE to have talent and skill. But it is a competitive world out there... education and training can give you that additional edge that makes you stand out from the crowd. Bottom line is, trained or not, you need to be very practiced to succeed and I suspect that is the common denominator you will find!


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