At our Core: The Tribe

Like many of you, I have been inundated with the music of the (relatively) new musical Hamilton for the past year and a half. Both my children list it among the top music choices in our household, and run around with the lyrics and rhythms seemingly always at the tips of their tongues.

I recently came across an amazing video (embedded here or linked here) that features a unique ritual from behind the scenes of the Hamilton musical. In it, the actor currently playing King George (SNL’s Taran Killam) ceremoniously passes on the role to the next actor who will portray that character (the original King George from the off-Broadway Hamilton run, Brian d’Arcy James). This five-and-a-half minute peek into the behind the scenes cast rituals is fun and funny and it illuminated something for me about what we mean when we say “tribe.”

If you spend any time working with Yes! And… Collaborative Arts you will undoubtedly hear us talk about the importance of tribe. It is so central to our work, we created our entire educational pedagogy around it: Tribe Centered Learning. We do, however, have some difficulty in translating exactly what that means and how it looks in practice. Hold on here for this: that difficulty is actually part of what makes it tribal!

The most engaging part of this Hamilton video for me was how tribal it felt. I think you can agree that it was like viewing a private ritual. It had all of the markings of this type of event: scripted words, honored guests, call and responses, titles and transfers of power, and gift-giving. Like me, you probably laughed along with some of the jokes and probably didn’t laugh at times when the entire group on the video would. Tribes have this sense of existing in ways that are understood and not understood equally by the outside world. (Interestingly so because they spend so much of their life performing Hamilton for an audience.) They did not perform this ritual for you, rather they let you in on their precious moment. Make no mistake, this moment was very special to this tribe!

At Yes! And… Collaborative Arts we recognize these tribal moments. We actively work to create spaces where we can celebrate our tribe. Most importantly though, we are aware of our tribes and seek to use them to make a greater impact on the children and youth that we serve.

Guest post: “When You Don’t Get Seen” by Francesca Piccioni (Artist Teacher)

Editor’s Note: From time to time we will feature guest posts from our Artist Teaching staff. We hope to bring you content that is helpful in understanding who the artists are who work directly with our children and youth. In today’s entry Francesca shares some good advice for any young artist looking to audition for theatre roles. Francesca (who has been an Artist Teacher with us for a few years teaching in Summer Camps, Studio classes, and featured in our first ever Summer Sort of Thing in 2016) writes often on her blog, which we encourage you to follow at This entry can be found here.

          Francesca’s head shot

March 27, 2017

The last couple of weeks I have been on my audition grind, which is why I haven’t posted! But since I am probably not getting seen today, I figured I would dedicate a little time to talking about what you can do when you don’t get seen.

Let me catch you up to speed:

Got the 6am bus to NYC this morning with 2 EPA’s on the docket. Both, thankfully, in the same building. But little did I consider that today… is Monday: when every working actor is off.

I add my name to the lists. I’m at 29 for Forestburgh (not bad, not bad). Then 46 for Pioneer. BUT DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE ALTERNATES! Alternates are additional Equity actors that were not able to get an appointment. They get to jump on the alternate list and get seen in the instance that there is room in the schedule or someone doesn’t show up for an appointment.

Yeah, for Pioneer that list was in the 60s. I would call that audition a bust. Forestburgh has a better chance of seeing EMC’s before lunch, but they also have full appointments and an alternate list.

Obviously, this is infuriating. When you finally arrive to your destination and realize after 5 minutes that you probably won’t get seen today, it feels like a low blow. Time and money both went into preparation and travel. You start going through all the things you could be doing, like sleeping, for example. And now, you have about 5.5 hours to kill before you catch that bus home.

I am happy to report that I didn’t end up down the rabbit hole of regret and wanted to share how I was able to redirect my thoughts.

First thing that came to mind was discipline. The act of getting on the bus in the AM and committing to a routine is no easy feat. I have been going to New York since January, and each time it has gotten easier. All evidence of self-care (which I hope to continue to write more about!), and discipline. I am committed to showing up no matter what my circumstances.

If you show up, you prove that you take yourself seriously.

Second, I have an audition tomorrow. I am going to auditions for the next month and a half. I have some time to look over that material and feel better prepared. I can also check to see what else is happening today, or go onto Playbill to plan for future auditions. I get excited by the endless opportunities I have ahead.

Let it go and put your energy into the next thing!

There is always something you can do. And I figure that out based on what I need. Today, for example, I was able to make a blog post, send some emails, and read some plays. I put on this fantastic new playlist created by my friend Trevor, got to write, and treated myself to a coffee. Writing is my way to remain creative and positive outside the audition room.

Francesca as Captain Popadopulous in All Hands on Deck (pictured here with her ship-shape mates)

Plan ahead by bringing tasks, or something creative to work on.

Last thing, don’t be afraid to leave your headshot/self submit. You have nothing to lose, especially if you are local, by sending a specific email about what show and role you think you’re right for. The worst that can happen is they won’t respond. At NYC open calls, many times you have the opportunity to leave your resume. You might as well! Especially if you feel especially right for the season. I myself am trying to get in a more consistent habit of following up after going to EPA’s.

Don’t be shy; put yourself out there!

We are half-way through audition season, and despite a few hiccups here and there, I am striving to stay motivated and positive. For the most part, I am truly enjoying myself. In previous years I have held full-time jobs that did not allow me to go out for things like I am now. I am learning a ton. I hope you are getting out there too and finding the JOY.

Happy Auditioning…. <3<3xoxoxoxo<3<3