Thursday, 10 September 2015

The Importance of Preparation for Performance

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Pauletta Washington is returning to Toronto with a new show Chronicle.  Joined by her band Mamazband, she will be performing at the Randolph Theatre—and all proceeds are benefitting Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts.
Pauletta Washington.
Photo by Bruce Zinger

Chronicle is described as a multi-media show featuring song, spoken word and world music, combined with amazing video elements on a 30-foot curved screen. The audience will be treated to some re-workings of classic rock and soul, together with reinventions of historically significant works - music from Ukranian Kobzars, the Afghanistan Civil War and the Uzbekistan vanished courts - deemed worthy of protection by the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Washington was introduced to Randolph Academy via choreographer David W. Connolly, who directs the video and stage productions for Mamazband.  She first came to Randolph for a “Pro-Forum” with a Q&A for the students—and was surprised to arrive to a presentation, prepared just for her by 200 Randolph students who were just starting classes for the year.  “It was looking at a sea of angels, their cherub faces…it just threw me,” she said.

As is often the case with these types of conversations, the one-hour Q&A went on far longer than anticipated—nearly three hours.  “We could have taken a break and come back and kept going,” she said.  Questions that started with how she chose her material, and whether or not she was nervous when she performed, lead to a conversation about the importance of preparation.

“When you’re not prepared, that’s when it becomes nerve-wracking,” Washington said.  As she describes it, when your mind, body, and spirit are all on solid ground, you can “let it flow from there.”  She says that nerves can then manifest themselves more as excitement—anxiousness in a positive way.  (She compared it to the way her son, a professional football player, describes the moment before play starts when you’re "jumping and buzzing about.")

Washington sought out mentors (and still does today)—but not just renowned artists like Ruby Dee, but also people like her pastor, who helps her “formulate words to ask the right questions.”  But she says her first mentors were her parents who gave her “a great foundation” and stressed the importance of discipline—which is vital for any artist.

“Mentors can give you tidbits of information,” she says.  “But it’s not until we come face to face with the situation… that’s when we get it.  It’s like being in a car: you can be a passenger and go the same route over and over.  But as you become the driver, you can go the same route, but everything looks completely different.”

For her performance, “it’s my hope, my joy to be a blessing to others because I’ve been blessed so much.  When audience leaves, give them something to think about: provoke that, ignite that—for the good.”

Chronicle will be presented at the Randolph Theatre on September 13 and 14.  For more information, visit

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