On Theatre

Wednesday was the first day in a long time that I didn’t feel like all I want to do is be transported home to New York (where I’m headed after this term ends for a week holiday before co-op). I didn’t think it was because of my theatre class, but clearly it was.

Things were tense the last few days, our creative processes not functioning totally well. Random bickering and testiness. Random only that it was constant. Eek. Not terribly fun. I thought I didn’t care. I convinced myself I didn’t. And I don’t, in that I’m not really worried about what the final project looks like. It’s the process that I care about, really. And it hasn’t been very graceful or even fun. I always want that immediate gratification. Rationally, I know it’s all good, because I’ll learn- eventually- from the most frustrating of processes.

And now that I think about it, it’s not even that I didn’t care about the show itself. I was talking to fellow classmate Maria right before the show was about to start, and, clearly on the same wavelength, we simultaneously said it was “a different kind of care”. A care that allows for some amount of indifference. But indifference is a bad word. Oh, I can’t explain it. But know what I mean? Not indifference so much as just not tension. Not panic. Not anxiety. I don’t get stage fright anyway, but usually when I’m unsure about how cohesive a show is (which I certainly was about this one), I get a little freaked out. Physical manifestations if nothing else: palpitations, light-headedness, extreme moreso-than-usual fidgetiness.

But I got none of that. Which was great. That good performance buzz without the nastiness. Usually they go hand-in-hand. Good with the bad, and all that. A balance. This, I think, spoiled me. The thrill I get from being on stage with no counter of anxiety? I don’t know if that’s good for me! Because it’s too good! ;)

In any case, the show itself was good, but since the process was at times so bloody frustrating, it more than made up for it. So there was a balance, gathering and adding up all the elements. I suppose I should be grateful the process didn’t go as smoothly as some of those I’ve been through in the past. Keeping it real and all.

Overall this week was highly rewarding. I’ve realized that I’m at my best, most in my element, when involved in some kind of creative/theatrical process. Get those juices flowing, you know? I’m in the zone. Even when it’s messy and bad, it’s good. It’s necessary. It sustains me. It’s nice to finally have found something to sustain me, after searching in vain for almost 23 years. Which is a long time when you’re 23. And not even 23 and a half.

It’s interesting, I was thinking about this earlier, when I was in wretched-frustration mode with the class and the work. I was getting down on it, feeling not in control, not inspired, not anything good, like I wanted to give up. That’s my defense mechanism: to convince myself that I don’t care when I get frustrated about things and feel like giving up. It’s better than giving up, I seem to think. Which it might be. But, really, it’s just the next step to actually working it out.

In any case- that’s not the point I was going to make- I was going to say- I thought to myself: if I get so frustrated and begin to feel like I don’t want to be doing this, why do I keep coming back to this? The past few years have seen me consistency doing theatre stuff, performing and otherwise (the otherwise- mostly tech- is a totally difference experience/process): last term I did improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre; last fall I did Autoperformance; last summer I did collective commedia dell’arte and melodrama at the San Francisco Mime Troupe; etc.; etc.; etc.

Obviously, I thought, there’s something that keeps bringing me back to it. It’s too consistent in my life. A life which has seen anything but consistency for its entirety.

Nothing is meant to be good all the time, even (and perhaps especially) those things that we care about so much, that we keep coming back to, that are our calling, that may be the very reason we’re on this earth. On the contrary. The testy times are those that lead us to question our very existence. That keeps us on our toes. That keeps us human.

Didn’t Boal’s story about the origin of theater- the story of Xua-Xua- say that questioning and exploring the human condition the foundation of all theater?


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