ArtsJournal posted an amusing story from ArtsAtlanta recently. It’s about learning to project the persona you want to project when you go to a job interview.
An arts official at Georgia Tech got the idea that actors could help awkward students who are moving out into the world. She started by contacting actors experienced in the art of drag.
Gail O’Neill writes, “Madison Cario, Georgia Tech’s Office of the Arts director, was walking across campus in the Spring of 2015 when she passed a career fair in progress.
“After noticing how uncomfortable the students looked in their business suits and corporate attire, Cario’s mind flashed to Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. The 40-year-old, all-male, contemporary ballet company — featuring men wearing makeup, tutus and wigs while dancing on pointe — was scheduled to perform at the Ferst Center in the coming weeks.
“Who better, thought Cario, than performers who’d perfected the art of drag to teach millennials how to transition from uniforms of hoodies and flip-flops into young professionals whose wardrobes reflected their career aspirations.
One year later, a half-day seminar titled Drag 101 was offered in anticipation of Tech’s next career day. …
“ ‘As with any performer,’ says Cario, ‘students [preparing for job interviews] are not just putting on a suit. They have to put on a persona and adopt a personality. They must embody the confidence and poise needed to take up space in a room, and engage in conversation.’
“The practice of nonartists turning to actors for guidance on how to adapt to unfamiliar situations and settings is not unprecedented.
“The late-Margaret Thatcher worked with a tutor at London’s National Theatre to help lower the pitch of her voice after she decided to run for Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. …
“The Alliance Theatre has institutionalized a program that teaches business clients how to apply the methodologies and mechanics of the theater to help improve presentation skills in corporate settings. …
“ ‘The skills, which are pejoratively called “soft skills,” are not taught on the job or at university,’ says J. Noble, cofounder of Alliance@Work and communications specialist at the Alliance’s education department. ‘Some people are naturally inclined to be present, empathetic and self-aware, but the majority of us aren’t as much as we should be. And we’re not given opportunities to explore, rehearse and refine those characteristics.’ …
“For Noble, a former director, mining the principles of authenticity, empathy and connection as an Alliance@Work coach is indistinguishable from his work with actors. ‘In both cases, the work is transformational,’ he says.”
I’ve had a couple public speaking classes with groups like that. The lessons haven’t really stuck, though. I’d rather be in a play and perform as someone other than me. But I did learn one thing from the video taken in my last class: I have a tendency to hunch my right shoulder when making a speech.
Photo: The New York Post
For young people starting out, job interviews can be intimidating. Coaching by actors may lessen the stage fright.