Sebastian Cummings isn’t one to wait around. In addition to preparing for a starring role in Poison Apple Intiative’s Fringe show AN OBVIOUSLY FOGGOT, he is putting together a one-night show of original music dance theater. His reasons why should be a clarion call to all artists out there. [PhilaMOCA, 531 N. 12th Street] September 13, 2016, sebastiancummings.com.
I thought about the kind of movies I would like to be in, the type of songs I would like to make, the grand performances I would put on, etc. I had fallen out of my best shape, but I figured, “once I get that gig I’ve always wanted, it will force me to get in shape.” There was nothing to worry about. “When I get that opportunity, It will be so great, i will rise to the occasion,” I thought. I waited and waited and waited and waited.
I stumbled across the book, Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard at a shop in LAX earlier this year. I took my time reading the 200 or so page book, taking notes and pausing for days at a time, to implement the book’s strategies into my everyday life. And suddenly, one day the book stood up on its own and spoke to me, “you are waiting for someone to give you permission to be great, you are waiting for someone to enter your life and give you everything you’ve ever wanted, but what it seems you don’t understand is, that person is you.”
After dealing with the initial shock of a book speaking to me, I realized, the book was right. As artists, especially performers, we are constantly in search of permission. We arrive at an audition, perform and silently say, “may I have permission to be excellent?” and the nature of the business, is that at 90% of those auditions that we actually value, we will be told, “sorry, not today.”
It’s opening night of your play, and you learn there’s a critic in the house, you stand off-right and you send out a prayer, “let me have permission to be great!” When you see the review days later, you learn that permission was not granted.
So, you just wait. “someone will give me permission one of these days, and I’ll be ready!” FUCK THAT! You don’t need permission.
Seneca once said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” So, get the fuck up, prepare yourself, EVERYDAY, to accomplish all those wonderful things you dream of, create your own opportunities, don’t wait for someone to hand you one, and one day you will wake up and realize you are one lucky fucker. Be vulnerable, stop thinking off all the things that could go wrong and start considering all the things that can go right.
“But how?” you ask. Just start.
We underestimate the power of habit. So often we think of our bad habits—smoking, eating cheese fries, drinking, masturbation—as procrastination. The power of habit is that you don’t have to think about it, you just do it.
What if that power was used for things that benefited you? What if your habits were: waking up early and stretching, taking time to write every single day, exercising, and seeking knowledge. Who would you be in a month? A year? Do something today that your future self will be grateful for! And be bold about it! The time will go by regardless, it will happen, so why not start working toward the best version of yourself today.
After considering all this, I decided to create a challenge for myself. I decided that I would complete one song, everyday, for nine days. I wanted to move forward with music for some time, but I thought, “I can’t until I find someone to collaborate with.” I thought that was the only way my music would be “right.”
But, then I considered the words of Giorgio Moroder, “Once you free your mind about a concept of harmony and music being correct, you can do whatever you want. So, nobody told me what do, and there was no preconception of what to do.” So, I said, “fuck it, let me be bold.” I was very surprised with what I came up with, in usually just under two hours.
I would take the music I made, plug in a mic and just start singing, I didn’t write anything, the subject came to me as I went and I loved everything I came up with.
Then I started shaping my day, for my work. I would wake up at 5 am, so I could run my six miles, stretch and still have time to make a song before work. Then I thought, I should make a video for one of these songs, so that became a challenge.
Then i thought, well I should produce a show, a concert, using all this new material. I looked at dates for venues and most were booked up for fringe and the beginning of the upcoming season. Then I saw a small window, it was just two weeks away at the time.
Two weeks to produce a show? That’s insane! I have to make the mix, I have to rehearse the songs, the choreography, I have to promote! Then I realized, I was prepared, and this was an opportunity for me to create my own opportunity. So, I took it.
I once saw Debbie Allen speak at International House. She told us a story about when she first auditioned for a school as a dancer. From memory, this is how the story goes: She flew across the country for the first time, alone. She arrived at the audition, very much prepared. During the auditions, the instructors used Ms. Allen as an example, they would bring her to the front and say, “watch Ms. Debbie.” Ms. Allen knew she was performing well, and she felt great about it. At the end of auditions, she walked up to one of the instructors and asked, “how soon will we know if we are accepted.” The man said, ” I don’t want to lead you on, you’re not going to be chosen. We need all our dancers to look the same, look at them and look at you.” Ms. Allen cried all the way home. When she arrived at home, her mother asked “how did it go?” Ms Allen told her mother the story, crying all the way. She looked to her mother for sympathy, but her mother instead replied with, “You let that man tell you no?”
Since then, I often remind myself, I will NEVER let that man tell me no.
One-Person Conceptual Concert
Music. Dance. Voice-over.
September 13, 2016 at 8pm
531 N. 12th Street
$15 at door