Friday, May 18, 2012


Look at this, three posts total, two days in a row.  How good of me.

Anyway, I could have sworn I already told this story on my blog, but I looked and I couldn't find it.  I think the truth is that I've been meaning to tell this story for ages and never got around to it.

Senior year of college I took the required directing class.  I was nervous.  Out of my mind nervous really.  My experiences with directors hadn't really been a good one during college and my experience with the professor had been even worse.  However I had to take it and, because it was a class many people failed, I wanted to take it earlier in the year than later.

The class ended up really not being that bad.  I'm fairly sure directing will never be for me.  It's not that I don't have an artistic opinion, because I do and I need to turn that part of my brain off while I'm stage managing.  It's more that I'm not comfortable being the one people turn to about the artistic vision.  I'm bad at having a unifying, whole artistic view.  However, the class went as well as could possibly be expected.

The reason for this background information is I want you to know this: Directing as a class scared me.  It scared me every day I had a class.  

At the end of the term we did an interesting exercise.  Each of us wrote down one word or phrase that described each person in our class.  At the very end of the last class period we would get our compiled lists.  It was a little bit of an unnerving experience.  Everyone was scared that people secretly hated them.  Everyone was scared that people would be mean.  We didn't have to look at our lists, but we did have give descriptors (confidentially) to our professor for every classmate.

I got my list and looked at it and it wasn't mean.  It wasn't brutal.  Confidentiality seemed to have brought out honesty from people, at least I can hope.  My list was primarily composed of words and phrases like: Stage Manager, Competent, Assured, Calm, Reassuring, Confident.  Twenty-one other people in the class and I got twenty descriptors like the ones above.  However, one person saw through me.  One person put: Scared.  And that was the truth.  The complete truth.

The point of this story?  You can influence what people think of you.  I wasn't calm in that class. I wasn't assured or confident.  I was terrified; scared out of my mind.  But I projected those attributes.  When at school I was constantly in my role as stage manager.  Even in classes I needed to seem calm and self-assured when I wasn't so that the actors I had classes with come to me during a show a trust me.  The traits above are how I want to be viewed by most people and that little exercise in directing gave me proof that it was mostly working.  One person saw through my projection.

Unfortunately, describing things as I am, it seems horribly manipulative.  And I suppose it is manipulative.  But it's not all a facade.  In directing it was because the scared feeling mostly overwhelmed everything else. However, at most points in my life I am self-assured, competent, calm, reassuring.  I don't get stressed easily, I enjoy helping people as best I can, I enjoy my job and it is a major part of who I am.  Even as a small child I have always been self-possessed.

These days whenever I start a new show at a theatre I've never worked at before I project calm, in control, and competent.  And those things are true.  I'm not the best with new settings though, so subconsciously, I tend to get extremely serious and formal because in truth, I'm not at ease.  I'm working with the same actors I worked with during winter and doing so is making me realize this fact.

For my winter show I was stiff and formal.  Towards the end I started to relax.  Tristan is hard not to relax around and the actors are so damn charismatic.  Now, coming into this new show, despite being flung into it head first, I'm comfortable with the actors.  I can joke with the actors and stage manager (who I actually had never met before Tuesday).  I'm still competent, the actors still trust me, but now I'm more myself.

What does this all mean?  I'm not entirely sure.  In part it's just a realization I've been coming to.  Despite all my descriptions above, I don't pretend to be who I'm not.  I honestly believe that with all my heart.  Even in directing I wasn't pretending to be someone else, I was just hiding being scared with other traits from my personality.  It's all rather complicated.  I also worry about being manipulative, but still, I can't show I'm panicked or upset in front of actors during a show, etc.  There are just some circumstances where I need to project a different emotion than the one I'm feeling.  

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