Tuesday, May 25, 2010

scenes from life

What's a good opening sentence? Too tired to figure one out.

This week - this day - (nay, this... summer?) has been ripe with new experiences, perspectives, and questions that have left me in a complete daze; I am all at once aware of so much more about myself and those around me, but this same discovery has also lead - as such things often do - to a larger awareness of what is still out there that I do not know. It's always interesting to me that when one door opens, there's usually a corridor of locked doors waiting behind it. The journey never ends..

Anyway - today: 8:00am load-in at the festival stage; hauling in scenery, constructing set pieces, installing lights; all under the blazing midwestern sun. 5:00pm; end of load-in, dinner with Scott Irelan, the Riverside Theatre's dramaturg for the festival. 7:00pm; rehearsal on the festival stage - fight choreography and scene work. 11:00pm; home, sandwhich, hungry cats, bed.

It's been a long day.

The load-in today was great. 1) It reminded me of those good old days as a Production Assistant at APT; though I was there only one year ago, it seems decades away. 2) The manual labor was a much needed break from sitting in a stuffy theatre, and 3) I always enjoy the comradeship that thrives on days like these. Actors, interns, and technicians come together to work as a unit for an entire day; yes, the work is hard, but in sharing that load we become closer, appreciate everyone's contributions, and we bring ourselves that much closer to our end product. It's an exciting part of the process, and it's great to shake things up every once and a while.

My short time here - as I think is the result any time I find myself away from the "norm" - has made me, once again, aware of the extraordinary quality of every day moments in my life. My walks to and from the theatre, lunch with friends, or just being able to sit in the park and read and write! - these small scenes that make up my life are where I find my solitude and peace of mind. Every day has brought me new clarity about where I'm headed in the coming year and what needs to happen in order to make those ventures possible. Last week I received my final grades for the spring semester, meaning that school is officially over and I am free to explore what's in front of me without what's left behind looming over my head. This past Saturday, my dad paid me a surprise visit and took me out for breakfast. When he left town, I retreated to the park across from my host home and napped in the shade on a picnic bench. The sounds of the neighborhood were positively invigorating. I sincerely feel renewed energetically, spiritually, and physically. It's great to be myself again, and to take joy in restfulness and leisure, to pursue my "work" with happy dedication without whatever myriad anxieties usually cloud my plane.

There have been many "happy collisions" so far this summer - one such collision has come from the man who introduced me to this phrase: Ted Swetz. He is the director of Love's Labors Lost, one of the original founders of APT, a student of Stella Adler, and, as luck would have it, he's my monologue coach this summer. The acting interns have the great fortune of spending a handful of afternoons with Ted, at which he shares his philosophies and life lessons, his secrets and his methods, and I am soaking up his gospel with all my might. I have been writing like a fiend these last seven days, taking note of every new insight, specific moments, and new questions provoked by chance encounters. Stella Adler, with so much passion, urged her students to listen with their blood - Ted's approach to acting, to teaching, is very clearly derived from such a passionate instruction and I am happy to say that this passion's contagion continues to progress.
Another such collision has been with Scott Irelan. Today we got together so that I could pick his brain and learn more about the role of Dramaturg in a theatrical production. Scott had great insights to share and great tips for me as I prepare for two dramaturgical processes this coming fall. Immediately after our meeting I called my professor, Lisa, to tell her about this great encounter. More research, writing, and teaching on the horizon, and I couldn't be more excited.

It's hard to believe I'm having such a great time in Iowa. It's hard to believe that such a small theatre could be offering me such a hugely exciting theatrical/life experience. This place and these people are truly teaching me, day by day, that theatre and life must merge in order for the experience of the theatre to be passionate and engaging, for it to be real, and for it to warm you. "All creativity must come from joy," Ted told us actor-hopefuls. "Nothing comes from negativity." I am happy here; dare I say it: joyful. In this joy and learning I'm rediscovering confidence in myself, and in that confidence more creativity.

Doors within doors, and always something just beyond.


  1. Chaddy,

    I'm really enjoying reading about your summer and the progression of your life. I hope you keep writing about your time internship this summer. What theater are you at?


  2. Joe

    I'm at Riverside Theatre in Iowa City.