Category Archives: Reviews

The 3 P’s: Persistence Passion Purpose

The HubSpot Growth Show is great: http://www.hubspot.com/podcast the stories truly inspiring and serve to remind us that success doesn’t happen overnight, it takes persistence, determination, a lot of pulling ourselves back up, following a path when we don’t know if and when it’s going to happen for us, while remaining true to our passion, gut instinct and purpose.

images-1At the weekend I saw the actress Denise Gough give what has been credited as the West End performance of the year in People Places Things. I read afterwards that in 2012 when she received the critics award for most promising newcomer, she respectively said she’d been around for 10 years. Despite the award she then went on to have a period of 1 year before People Places Things where she had no work. She applied for and didn’t get a cleaning job and was about to give up on her dream when it finally happened for her.

Was it a lucky break? NO, it was sheer persistence, determination, a lot of pulling herself back up, following her path and staying true to her passion, gut instinct and purpose.

 

Succession Planning

KevinSpaceySuccession Planning: In an interview with Harvard Business Review Kevin Spacey was asked if he accomplished what he set out to as the Old Vic Theatre, he said that the most important thing was succession and that he wanted to build a theatre company solidly, so that when he left, it would continue. Words from his closing speech as he stepped down as Artistic Director: “The best thing about The Old Vic is its future”

Red Shoes, the Good Wife and a Pink Purse

????????????????????????????????????????My mum was born in an era when women always dressed up when leaving the house and that wasn’t for a night on the tiles but for everyday occasions like a trip to the local grocery store. I always remember her looking elegant and she had a penchant for clothes and accessories.

A few years ago when my mum was in her early 80’s she asked me if I could pick her up a piece of costume jewellery, she wanted a necklace. I asked what colour she’d like and I suggested perhaps something in beige, because it would be quite versatile and go with everything, like a pair of beige shoes. My mum gave me a horrified look and said she’d never wore beige shoes in her life, it was such a boring and uninspiring colour and that she always wore red shoes because they were more fun and different. My mum was always full of surprises and on reflection her uniqueness always stood out but in a very subtle way, I admit red shoes might not sound that subtle, they do I think give an insight into the fun element my mum has always brought to life and allowed her personality to shine through.

I’m a fan of the TV series The Good Wife and at the end of the 1st series I watched the interview with Daniel Lawson the costume designer where he spoke about the importance of each actor’s wardrobe in helping them develop their character and their story, He strived to have the wardrobe underscore what each actor was doing to help tell the story. It was important that the wardrobe didn’t upstage or detract in any way.

Then as the characters and their stories developed, he began to make subtle changes: for Alisha Florrick as she settled back into work and became more comfortable with her work environment and the situation she’d been saddled with, he began by having her wear more jewellery, allowing a glimpse into her personality. For Diane Lockhart who does pay attention to her style he had her wearing vintage pins which portray her as the businesswoman she is, chic and elegant. For Kalinda Sharma it was all about the job and she wore very minimal jewellery and wearing the same necklace was her thing. He did the same for the male characters in developing their style to support the development of their character and story.

This is the same for professionals in their work today, they want to look the part and they want to be taken seriously for their work but they also want to allow their personality to shine through and whether that’s a subtle development similar to Alisha once they become comfortable in their role and environment, or more obvious as with Diane to portray their fashion sense and being comfortable with their position of power, or like Kalinda keeping it minimal and making it about being good at  the job.  The people I know do this in a way that allows their personality shine through.

Interestingly I was working with a client recently preparing for the interview stages of a significant progressive career change and when she was selecting the clothes she would wear for the various stages of the process she met with a personal dresser who said she has never failed in dressing a client for success at interviews. The interviews were representative of the very different work environments across the world where my client’s work would take her to, from a multi cultural and community relations perspective. She needed and wanted to be respectful of this, while retaining her own style.

For me its my signature perfume, colourful lipsticks and my wacky pink Ted Baker purse, that has started many a conversation and brings a smile to people’s faces, and I think we all need something that allows our uniqueness, personality and fun side to shine through.

The reviews I write are by way of reflecting on cultural experiences to include performing and visual arts that touched my heart and my mind and making sense of them in the context of learning and development in both community and work-place.

Evolving Careers Players can help you make an impact in your work through your uniqueness, allowing your personality to shine through. We deliver 121 career coaching, group learning and development and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre, corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios. http://www.evolvingcareersplayers.com Get in touch to discuss your needs: carmel@evolvingcareersplayers.com

Goodnight John Boy

great-depression-unemploymentWhen The Waltons first came to our screens it was set in the time of The Great Depression, jobs were scarce, companies were closing down and people needed to be creative in their thinking when it came to finding themselves a job or set up in business, not so different to how it is now really.

What might have made it even more difficult for the Waltons was that they lived in a very small community and so perhaps there wasn’t a lot of scope for enterprise, however when they did venture further afield to the bigger towns, there may have been more opportunities but there was also more competition, again not so different to how things are now.

And yet they all managed to find work when they needed to, they were quite inventive about it really and managed to utilise their unique talents, skills, and attributes, whether that was in their small community or when up against the competition in the bigger towns and cities. The grandparents and parents instilled strong values in the children along with a strong belief that they could achieve their heart’s desire. They recognised, encouraged and embraced the unique talents within each child and gave them a supportive push in striving towards their goals.

They didn’t have the financial capacity to fund their education but the belief they instilled in each child provided a greater capability to achieve the career they aspired to, far more than funding their education would ever have done. Each one worked hard for what they wanted which resulted in even greater appreciation and gratification.  I think the old adage of ‘give a man a fish and he’ll eat well today, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat well for the rest of his life’ is appropriate here.

The Grandparents, parents and in turn the siblings were a great support to each other along their career and life journeys. They were I think both mentors and mentees at various stages as they all supported each other in their learning and development. As much as we’ve evolved since the time of the great depression, and organisations are becoming more international and global, many things remain the same. We all have the capacity to be both mentors and mentees, to share our knowledge, wisdom, expertise and even among the international and global organisations there is space for the values and beliefs demonstrated in the Walton family, simple perhaps but as I think many of us have come to realise in an increasingly complex world ‘simplicity’ is becoming one of the four key values.

I’ll talk about the other three values in another post and I’ll also talk about the stories from the individual Waltons in terms of how they achieved careers in line with their talents, skills, attributes which lead them to lead fulfilling lives. But for now it’s goodnight John boy.

The reviews I write are by way of reflecting on cultural experiences to include performing and visual arts that touched my heart and my mind and making sense of them in the context of learning and development in both community and work-place.

Evolving Careers Players can hep you manage and develop your career. We deliver 121 career coaching, group learning and development and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre, corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios. http://www.evolvingcareersplayers.com Get in touch to discuss your needs: carmel@evolvingcareersplayers.com

What If ?

imagesIn the film Letters to Juliet, the character Sophie becomes mesmerised by the wall of letters in Juliet Capulet’s Courtyard, where people come from all over the world to write their burning question about their romantic dilemma, which is answered diligently by the secretaries of Juliet.

Behind a brick in the wall Sophie finds an unanswered letter written fifty years ago by a 16 year old English girl called Claire who had fallen in love with a young Italian boy called Lorenzo, Claire’s parent’s were taking her back to England and away from her Lorenzo, she wrote to Juliet asking her advice on what to do.

Sophie writes to Claire and poses the question ‘What If? The letter resonates with Claire and brings her back to Italy fifty years later in search of her Lorenzo and both women are swept along in a romantic venture that neither could ever have imagined.

Sophie’s letter began: ‘What If?’ What and If are two words that are as non-threatening as words can be, but put them together side by side and they have the power to haunt you for the rest of your life’.

It’s a question I pose to my clients when they’re considering a change in their current circumstances to allow them to move away from a career that is uninspiring and de-motivating for them, to follow a career path that allows them to be more fulfilled and energised in their work and their life.

In essence they’re looking for their Lorenzo, some will know what the Lorenzo of their career and life is, while others will discover it along the way. Either way in a similar way to Claire they will need the courage to follow their heart and metaphorically speaking cross oceans to achieve their dreams, and while they don’t always know where their story will end, the important thing is to know that it’s never too late to be true to themselves in their quest for happiness in their career and life.

I leave you today with just one question: What is the Lorenzo of your career, life and happiness?

The reviews I write are by way of reflecting on cultural experiences to include performing and visual arts that touched my heart and my mind and making sense of them in the context of learning and development in both community and work-place.

Evolving Careers Players can help you develop a career that motivates and inspires you. We deliver 121 career coaching, group learning and development and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre, corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios. http://www.evolvingcareersplayers.com Get in touch to discuss your needs: carmel@evolvingcareersplayers.com

Identity and Work, the Subtlety of Persuasion and the Importance of Being Present

imagesTwo Days One Night (2014) a film about Sandra, (played by Marion Cotillard) a young Belgian mother, who discovers that her workmates have opted for a significant pay bonus, in exchange for her dismissal. She has only one weekend to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so that she can keep her job.

Is this something that could happen in real life? The Directors/Writers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne said the idea came from reading news stories about similar situations where workers solidarity was challenged. In the film, the workplace becomes a battleground, these are struggling workers with families and not CEO’s or fat cats. Sandra finds and creates solidarity, uncovering people’s true nature as well as her own.

Has the recession added to this where people are competing with each other for their jobs and is this in fact social realism? Central to the idea is validation through work, a precarious concept in an era of widespread unemployment. In an interview with the Guardian, the brothers are quoted as saying “If you don’t have a job, you are made to feel like an outcast from your community. Possibly in the future people will find another way to be part of the community that is not connected to work but for now that is where meaning lies. From an anthropological point of view, that is how mankind feels a sense of belonging.” http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/aug/07/-sp-dardenne-brothers-marion-cotillard-two-days-one-night

Cotillard talks about the difficulty of portraying her character: basically she has the same thing to say ten times. She had to find the evolution, the slight details that created the drive and motivation to keep Sandra moving even though she is telling people the same thing in her endeavours to persuade them to vote for her to keep her job and give up their bonuses. But because it’s almost but not the same thing, the tiniest changes in each scene meant Sandra’s confidence would go up and down and everything she could build up from those little differences would help her to identify how to angle each pitch she made.

Each meeting was filmed in real time, this allowed each of the characters to be fully present and accentuated the tension and the movements within that tension. The shots were addictive which draw the audience in. It’s like watching a live match, will they score, won’t they score … There is a strong focus on the audience, and the importance of creating a scene to take them on a journey. Everything is about taking them somewhere, surprising them, making them feel super special. Interestingly Cotillard said for a lot of directors its not about the audience!

The brothers spend a lot of time in the rehearsal process. They talk about rehearsal allowing the actors to be truly present and it’s only when they are truly present that the scene can exist and the tensions and rhythms arise. They say rehearsals allow the exploration of tracks, which then don’t need to be explored again. They say you only get the picture right once, there’s only one shot possible. There’s room for manoeuvre because they’re on the right track. They acknowledge that while every actor is different, the work of creating a presence is the same, making them as present as possible allowing the actors to have more of a presence. Every role was equally important making the scenes possible because everyone had a leading role.

The art of persuasion, negotiation and influence is built on the same powers of observation, the ability to notice the minutest change, to be fully present in the moment and to react in real-time is of utmost importance, because as the brothers say: “there’s only one shot possible” .

The reviews I write are by way of reflecting on cultural experiences to include performing and visual arts that touched my heart and my mind and making sense of them in the context of learning and development in both community and work-place.

Evolving Careers Players can help you develop your observational and persuasion skills and your ability to be fully present in the moment. We deliver 121 career coaching, group learning and development and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre, corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios. http://www.evolvingcareersplayers.com Get in touch to discuss your needs: carmel@evolvingcareersplayers.com

A Story Worth Telling

red-velvetRed Velvet tells the true story of African-American actor, Ira Aldridge (1807-67). The playwright  (and actor) Lolita Chakrabarti brings this fascinating story to vivid life and her husband Adrian Lester plays the part of Aldridge.

The piece begins and ends in a theatrical dressing room, where Aldridge is preparing to play King Lear in the last year of his life. Lester beautifully captures the pained dignity and irritation of the ageing, ailing actor preparing to play Lear in white face paint not long before his own death.
The story then moves back in time to 1833 and to the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden. Aldridge is drafted in to play Othello when Edmund Kean, the great Shakespearean actor collapsed during a performance.

What should have been a breakthrough for Aldridge became a setback that haunted him for the rest of his life, despite the fact that he was the recipient of many honours, and became the highest paid artist in Russia. This was because of the racist reviews by the British press along with the deep discontent from some of the actors in the theatre over the manager’s decision to replace Kean with a black performer.

Lester gives a strong impression of the power of Aldridge’s playing and stage presence. He thrillingly replicates the charisma of the young Aldridge and the idealistic passion of the twenty-six year old through to the weight of his weary disillusion towards the final chapter of his life.
Thankfully Lester has long-since broken the mould in roles that Aldridge did not get a stab at, and with a nice twist of fate starred as Othello at the National Theatre.

The poignancy of the story was beautifully told by Chakrabarti. Interestingly she took time to chat to the audience at the end of the performance and told the story of how the play had evolved. She first heard of Aldridge in 1998 and was determined to find out more, but there was little known about him. This was pre internet, and so her research and her quest to uncover his story took many years and across continents and finally cumulated in this wonderful story with the support of Indhu Rubasingham, the artistic director at the Tricycle theatre and another woman on a mission “to draw in people who don’t go to the theatre” and her desire “to make the world a smaller place through theatre” Perhaps a goal she shared with Aldridge.

There are a lot of threads to the story but perhaps the one that stands out for me is: in spite of obstacles how talent shines through, this man in a period when slavery still existed in America and the British were debating whether to get rid of slavery in the colonies – was performing on a Covent Garden stage. His talent was supported by a determination to make his career happen and in time he has become recognised as one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of his day. An accolade duly awarded to Chakrabarti for her wonderful storytelling, to Rubasingham for bringing this play to stage and to Lester for bringing Aldridge to life.

The reviews I write are by way of reflecting on cultural experiences to include performing and visual arts that touched my heart and my mind and making sense of them in the context of learning and development in both community and work-place.

Evolving Careers Players can help you make your career happen. We deliver 121 career coaching, group learning and development and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre, corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios. http://www.evolvingcareersplayers.com Get in touch to discuss your needs: carmel@evolvingcareersplayers.com