SALESMANSHIP . . . SHOWMANSHIP
Every actor -- tragic, comic, musical, etc. -- must be a salesman, must be a showman. We assign you a song to sell in order that you may have the experience of the direct sale. That experience, that learning experience, you will then transfer to all of your acting. Salesmanship, showmanship for the sake of showmanship, of salesmanship, is empty, fruitless, sometimes ridiculous, will net you no real profits, at best only momentary profits. Such salesmanship is merely personal exploitation for the sake of personal gain with no consideration of the value of the product to the buyer. Buyers who are exploited seldom buy twice. . . the rules for theatrical salesmanship are exactly the same as the rules in business: first know your product believe in your product; have confidence in your product; believe that there is a market for it. (That people want it, need it); know that you will, must can clinch the sale; know that you can come back to sell again and again and again and believe this truly.
The product in theatre acting is you; your song is important but you notice the song does not sell itself. You all selected songs that others have sold to their publics; you notice that does not guarantee their sale; the performer must bring something to the sale; he must have qualities as an artist, as a person, as a performer; he must discover those qualities, know exactly what they are, develop them, train them, have confidence in them, throw focus on them, share them (communicate them, sell them and reap the reward of audience enjoyment: applause, encore and the encore is imperative; unless you get it, you have failed.
Your object from the second you walk on is that encore. This is not merely playng for a laugh, playing for applause at any cost. It must be deserved, earned, it is the glad payment for a product that is welcome. An audience pays for enjoyment, they want to applaud; if you do not give them that satisfaction, you have cheated them. Be humble about the great thing that theatre is, about all that you still have to learn, about the artists of the world that have achieved true greatness but when you step before an audience in any capacity, know: this much I have at this point, this I have to give, this much of me I have confidence in, if I share it truly with you it will merit your applause to express your enjoyment which is my concern.
No two of you have the same qualities to sell; each person must know himself, evaluate himself, find his best traits. I asked you during the first week of the course in October, what have you to bring to the theatre? You evaded the answer. Your work this morning reveals the result of that evasion.: you had no idea what you were selling. Killmer & Behrens came closest to real showmanship. Each had discovered something about self, each threw focus on that quality. Neither quite made the sale, because they did not have that as an objective; did not telegraph ahed -- this is the moment which will complete the sale. This is the moment for you to applaud. There is nothing cheap about such telegraphing if you have believed in your product and your audience need and know the applause is the culmination, the release, the necessary joyful release. Don’t you know thye wonderful joy of applauding and applauding, of wanting to stamp and shoult when a performance has given you joy?