Lost Among the Trees (Again)

Verse daily featured a poem I didn’t want to like. The diction, I guess. Might have been the form itself. A poem a day is a reminder to slow down.

Morning coffee, dates and the blackbirds’ singing in the dark. Saturday. The final weekend before the students’ premiere, I have a few minutes before the working day.

Lear is tucked away until next Friday. And I am scrambling until then.

All these years of student productions, I have learned to do everything in the last minute. I’ve learned to trust. And we’ve always stumbled through. Teenagers are simply amazing.

So there is that.

And there is a kind of personal/professional satisfaction in the work – in the creative demands of chaos. But I think I don’t want to do it anymore. I am stuck in a pattern of panic and pulling-through. The find myself only maybe reaching the same level of artistic competency every year because I’m not even aiming to be better at this particular thing that I’m repeating: the panic and the pull-through.

I love the brainstorming that happens while devising – the whole process is energizing and fun. But then when I am ready to put the breaks on and focus on the details – well. No. Because 15 or so complex lives are being played out in the rehearsal room and the bathroom and the wardrobe room. Because 200 minutes a week for 8 weeks is too little to hold the demands of a full-on from-scratch production – with amateurs, no less – and I have no interest in using students as übermarionetter. I respect their creativity too much to have them mimic my preconceived production. I would lose out. Everyone would. That is not where my strengths or interests lie.

I have always been a person who sees the trees and not the forest. I am realizing how true that is of pretty much every aspect of my creative work.

There are paintings of landscapes with forests or cities that you only see at a distance. Close up – nothing individual exists. I admire them for many reasons. But there are also paintings that give you the experience of sap on a tree branch. That allow you to zoom out on your own: bring the big picture from your own perspective and experience. Even if that means that you say, “this thing, this doesn’t exist in my world – how beautifully strange”. I like juxtapositions. I like intimacy.

When I first began teaching, I worked with creative dramatic teachers who were interested in the theatrical process as a holistic learning process. I have never thought that way. And to be clear, I still don’t. But I realize now that I am interested in process – as a creative, artistic process that is still at heart l’art pour l’art. I’ a’m beginning to understand exactly what I enjoy about collaboration – and what I don’t.

What a weird thing to discover after so many years: to identify what it necessary and what is not. What I am doing this weekend? It is time for me to finish up and move on. There are other ways.


%d bloggers like this: