Nine more days here. We’re down to single digits and I can’t tell you how excited I am for this.
Date: June 3, 2014
Days Spent on Project: 470
Location: Conway, Arkansas
Person I would have sent it to: Maija G.
Maija was the Assistant (and perhaps the Associate as we transfered to Broadway?) Choreographer on Fela!, meaning she would have to assist Bill T. J. as he tried to shape and realize the production’s movement.
Maija was always incredibly enthusiastic for the piece, for the people involved, for the experience of making the work and then also the experience of experiencing the work. Over the three summers I spent working on the piece, I can’t remember when she wasn’t upbeat or positive, no matter how overworked or stressed we all felt.
Back in 2008, as we were heading into previews, and I was helping wardrobe with notes and the run of the show, I remember Maija sat me down after a particularly frustrating notes session. I was upset, feeling as if I were stuck between two unmoving boulders, and Maija told me that I had to start pushing back to get the respect and attention that she knew I deserved and needed. I’m not sure if she honestly believed that, but I needed to hear someone say that: you’re here in the room with us and your opinion should be heard. Bill respects people who stand up for their work.
It was a great lesson to learn, or re-learn. I’ve thought about all the strong personalities I’ve experienced in my life, and I wonder why I’ve deferred to them without thinking instead of standing up more for my own thoughts and opinions. Is it that I want to show respect and be respectful of people who I assume have more knowledge, experience, taste?
I can’t say that I’ve taken that lesson to heart; if you know me, you know that I defer to the loudest voice in the room by default. But, six years ago, it was good to hear Maija say that to me.
Maija today is still working and dancing and creating theater in New York. She’s got a new piece that I read about on Facebook frequently. If I ever get back there, I should look into it.
Music I listened to while sewing: I’m listening to the Top 100 tracks on Spotify this morning, with the hope of hearing something new and fun.
Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: If anything, I am thankful to have met three other designers here in Arkansas. They’re all Chicago-based and in various stages of their careers. One of them just finished her graduate design in Costume Design weeks ago. A second is a year into his freelance career after grad school. The third is my age, and has worked all over the Midwest.
If anything, I should be thankful to have had this experience under my belt, so I can remember to embrace the productions where things go right and feel inspiring and seem worth it.
If anything, I should be thankful for the reminder that the people you click with on productions are the ones you want to work with and you should try to work with them.
If anything, I should be thankful to remember that money doesn’t solve all the problems, sure, but without it you can’t do much at all. And the people who ask you to do it for nothing with nothing don’t have realistic expectations or experience.
If anything, I should be thankful to know that I can do this and I do have a skill for this.
If anything, I should be thankful to have an assistant who actually wants to do the work.
If anything, I should be thankful for people who offer to help or provide support without being asked to or begged to.
If anything, I should be thankful to remember that theater cannot be created without communication or planning. People who try to “do it all” to save money ultimately don’t do amazing work. We can’t all be renaissance artists.
If anything, I should be thankful to have had amazing experiences in the past, so I know there are better ways to do things. I should be thankful for those amazing experiences because it has helped me recognize skill and talent and drive and creativity and dedication. It has also taught me how to recognize laziness and what it means to coast and the difference between a vocation and an avocation.
I went into this situation determined not to let this production be my swan song. Now, after this experience, I’m okay with that.
If this is it… oh well?
And I do not consider this giving up.