[EDIT: okay, it does, but only subtextually. so, sorry about that.]
We've just returned from ACTF at Michigan State University. It was a whirlwind of a week; we had quite a few successful designers and actors which kept us all bouncing from presentation to presentation, squeezing in workshops, productions, and (sometimes) food whenever possible. It was my last ACTF, and only my second, but we've had a good run together - great people, great theatre, and great inspiration.
There's not much else to ask for, is there?
Dean joined us briefly during our time in Michigan because he was being honored with the KCACTF Gold Medallion Award for service to the program. I haven't seen Dean in so long; his stint as the interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at UWP has shut him away from the theatre program pretty much entirely. But getting to hang out with him, see shows with him, and having him at my final design presentation for support was absolutely wonderful. That man inspires me like no one else and, as scary as it sometimes is to contemplate, I can see myself being very much like Dean when I'm a 'grown up.' I am forever indebted to him for accepting me into this program and challenging me on stage, in the classroom, and in life in general. People like Dean Yohnk come along only every once and a while, and I am forever grateful to him.
"Company" begins in a week. That's 7 days. We're to arrive off book, music memorized, ready to hit the ground running (perhaps breaking the sound barrier?), and I have to say I haven't been this anxious about a rehearsal process before. It will be my first real musical experience, aside from understudying the illustrious Harold Hill in The Music Man, and I have to say I'm not sure what to expect quite yet. Except that I will have my butt kicked. At the same time, though, I feel ready for it... Or, at least braced for it. Is that the same thing? I know I'm going to have a handful of my own personal barriers to break down during this process, but, what better environment to do that in than one in which no other choice is really acceptable, right? Over the last few weeks I've been reading and rereading the notes I took this past summer during my classical acting classes with Ted Swetz. Over and over again, I return to the idea of greatness. Ted spoke to the interns extensively about the importance of abandoning the term 'perfection' and replacing it with 'greatness.' Theatre is not about being perfect. Theatre is about being great. It's about making exciting choices and taking risks and knowing that failure is inevitable in the face of exploration. Fear of failure only holds us back from finding the truth.
I have feared failure in nearly every area of life since the moment I appeared on Earth. I'm not sure what that's all about, but I've always felt that an inability to succeed or complete something 'perfectly' not only let myself down, but disappointed others around me, as well.
I know I've contemplated this idea too many times to count, so, I'll just move ahead: I am ready to kick my own ass and really rock it this semester, in every way possible. I've had almost an entire semester off from doing what challenges/scares/inspires me the most, and now I've got two amazing opportunities in front of me during my final semester in college to learn and do as much as possible before I'm catapulted into the big, scary, unforgiving world of professional theatre and part-time jobs. Yeesh.
As a capper to this emptying of my thoughts, I'd like to say that I'm feeling really happy right now. There are a lot of complex layers and facets that accompany this blanket emotion, but, on the surface of it all, I'm feeling refreshed and overjoyed at the prospects of the immediate future. I've finally really (like, as in, actually for real this time) let quite a few big chips fall off my shoulder and I feel, for the first time in a long time, alive. This past week was a big part of that - being somewhere new with lots of foreign stimuli is always good for getting oneself to shake off old junk and become more open to what else is out there - and the next week will be, too, as I very completely dive into preparing for "Company" and "Hamlet." I'm hoping to have some camera adventures this week, too, so I can start figuring out this fancy new lens I got for Christmas... photo adventures are always a good mood booster.
And finally, in the words of Neil Patrick Harris: When I get sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead. Seems like a good mantra for the semester.