I was getting frustrated at a voice lesson a couple of years ago. I sing bluegrass, mostly, and I asked my voice teacher why on earth anyone would listen to me do these songs, some of which have been around for a hundred years. Songs recorded by greats like Hazel Dickens, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris. I was having that "why am I even here" moment.
What she said has really stuck with me. "What audiences respond to is authenticity. If you try to do the song like others did, it won't resonate. But if you give them an authentic performance, they will respond to that."
I was thinking about that as an actor, because I'm playing a role for the second time, and I've really been able to relax into it. I'm taking more chances, and not spending too much time in my own head overthinking things. Audiences have responded well, and I think this is one of my more authentic performances.
It makes a lot of sense to me because I get aggravated by the stage kids, the superpolished ones who broadcast "okay watch now, this is my big dance number!" Sure, they're technically amazing, but it's not authentic.
Or the musicians, singers mostly, who go through such histrionics when they perform. I usually think, "Wow, if it's that painful, why do it?" We all know that you can just stand there and sing and give an amazing performance.
Authenticity. With photoshop and autotuners and plastic surgery and green screens and CGI and sound bites, I think it's something we hunger for.