Block 942: February 21, 2016

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Slept in until 8:30 this morning!

My only plans thus far today are to go to work and do laundry for two shows that are playing currently, the gym, and then Powell’s (30% off sale today on everything, if you’re a “Friend or Family” of the store! Yay!).

I don’t need to spend more money on books.

Date: February 21, 2016

Crane: 942

Days Spent on Project: 1096

Location: NW Portland, OR

Person I would have sent it to: TBD

Music I listened to while sewing: More of Sia’s new album and why not!? It’s really good.

“I’m Alive,” “Unstoppable,” “One Million Bullets,” “Cheap Thrills;” I’m loving all of it.

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: I spent the evening watching this interview between Audra McDonald (amazing theater legend) and Shanice Williams (the 19 year old who played Dorothy on NBC’s The Wiz Live last December).

Here’s the link. Watch it. It’s about 55 minutes of pearls of wisdom being dropped, almost every minute.

But, if you don’t have the time, here’s a quote:

“I think I probably touched on it a little bit earlier. Um, while I was at Juilliard- I’ve made no secret of it- while I was at Juilliard, I didn’t have the best time. I was very confused while I was at Juilliard. And I came to Juilliard because they accepted me and because it was New York and because it was- what I thought was- you know, the closest to Broadway I could get. Um, but what I didn’t realize is that I’d been accepted into a very classical program and, so- uh- I felt that I was on, not on my right path, and studying all of this classical music and opera, which is… I didn’t want it. And I didn’t feel good about it. I didn’t feel good about myself artistically. And, I was like; I’m so close to Broadway. Broadway’s right there! That’s Broadway! That’s the street: Broadway!

Finally! You know?

But I felt like I’d never been further away from it.

So, in the end, what Juilliard taught me was that there was another side of my voice that I hadn’t discovered yet. And, once I did finally discover this classical sound- once I did get out into the world- that helped to inform all that my voice was, which I hadn’t really experienced until that point.

….

But, if I’d not gone to Juilliard, I wouldn’t have discovered that I had high notes, I wouldn’t have discovered that my voice could be this other thing, you know?

Not that I’m a classical singer, but that training at Juilliard- um- helped me to discover my true voice.”

 

-Audra McDonald.

Wow, does this hit home. And, no, it isn’t a condemnation of Juilliard (I didn’t go there). Nor is it a condemnation of the Yale School of Drama (I did go there). As I explained it to someone here in Portland last summer: I’m intensely proud that I went to the YSD. I’m proud of my education. I’m proud of the work I did there. I’m proud that going there did help get me to New York and did get me work (through the connections I made there).

I am not proud of how I felt there. I am not proud of how much my self-esteem dropped there. I am not proud that I let some people there made me question my worth as a theater artist, as a hopeful-designer, as a person, as a friend, as a gay man. I am not proud that I allowed myself to get knocked down so hard during my second semester that I felt I had to spend my entire third year proving myself in the most elementary ways, while I felt some of my classmates didn’t need to or want to.

I’m not proud that I felt being from the midwest and not from a wealthy family meant I would never be “good” at theater or design, because I started to believe theater was only for people who could “afford” to be poor.

BUT.

I am a better, more well-rounded, more capable, more confident (it that makes sense), more experienced, more aware theater artist who can and will form opinions. And the opinions I form aren’t un-informed. And I will share them. And I can back them up. Because I went to the Yale School of Drama- and precisely because I felt so “off” there- I learned so much about what attracts me to the work and what my tastes are and can be and should be and I learned about quality and point of view and perspective and opinions.

I learned the difference between arrogance and confidence.

I also learned how learning to act and do the work and make choices can be seen as arrogance in other people.

Anyway, as torn as I am about my time at the Yale School of Drama, I have to admit I’m proud of the three years I spent in New Haven and their effects on the rest of my life. I do now, after ten years on the outside, look up to all those people who taught me and pushed me and helped shape me. It was confusing then, it was.

But I’m still learned from those three years. And I’m still learning who I am and what I can do and what I want to do.

And, in the end, doesn’t that mean I got an excellent education?

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