The Correlation Between Talent and Maturity

There is none.

“There is no correlation between talent and maturity.” -John C. Maxwell

An immense talent walks into our audition room. We put them through the callbacks and challenge them with every possible need we think we might have for our show. Thrillingly, they own it all and exceed all expectation of anyone’s abilities. Everyone behind the table is thrilled to stamp their name on this casting.

Rehearsals begin. And slowly, while this individual’s talent may still be going strong, their maturity is unable to keep up with the demands of the rehearsal schedule. Their ego begins to come into play. They appear tired and unprepared for the scene work. They become disinterested and only want to play, laughing off their mistakes.

While they may be learning a great many life lessons on the realities of being an artist, they are learning those lessons on our time. Sometimes, as directors, it’s our job to work with and prepare young performers for the rigors of our work. But it’s a scary thing when we’ve entrusted a great deal of responsibility, maybe even the weight of an entire production to a young over-the-top talented performer who simply doesn’t have the maturity to keep up with their own talent.

We can get angry all we want. Rant and rave about the opportunities we’ve given them. Demand that they work harder. But the truth is, it’s our fault.

It’s our fault because we’ve failed to realize or remember the principle that there is no correlation between talent and maturity.

We want to think they are connected—that with great talent comes the maturity to know what to do with it.

But it’s simply not true.

A few ways we can protect ourselves and the talented, but young, artist:

Treat the audition and call-back process as you would a job interview. Of course, make sure they have the abilities and sensibilities the role calls for, but also take the time to ask questions to get to know them personally. You are not going to be rehearsing with the character they are qualified to play. You’ll be rehearsing with the actor learning to play the character. That’s a simple but huge distinction.

When in doubt, cast by experience. Use their resume. They’ve played a slew of big and important roles? Great! But how many times have they been welcomed back to the same venue? Are there lots of shows on their resume, but only a few directors? That can be a good thing! Do you know those directors? Give them a call.

There is no correlation between talent and maturity. Nor should there be. We just need to know when to make use of both. Sometimes individually, sometimes together.


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