Monday, March 09, 2009

The Marathon, and Looks Like Rain

A very happy Monday to everyone!
Why am I so cheerful? Not only did we have yesterday off - the first day off after a ten-day stretch through Iowa, Kansas and parts of Texas - we also had this morning off. Today at noon we're headed off to Lufkin, TX. The last ten days have been a proving ground for the company, and I think everyone got through with flying colors...
Almost everyone, anyway.

Speaking for myself, I'm abnormally short-tempered lately. Or maybe it's not abnormal - I actually think I'm getting more short-tempered as time goes on. To be perfectly frank (because I strive to be diplomatic and think twice before 'speaking' in this blog at all times, in the interests of my professional career...) I'm coming up on the need for a break. This isn't something I wouldn't say to anyone's face (and have said it a lot actually)...

It's funny because it isn't the show itself, which I love watching and studying every night. I love examining the effect on the audience, the reactions, and the work of the actors themselves. There's just something in being a leader/provider that is becoming wearying. I think part of it has to do with the summer and having served a demanding cast in the final show, and some of it with having toured several years in a row and expecting everyone else to know what's going on, when in fact they should have no reason to, and training others is part of the job description. There's a big part of me that loves teaching and loves watching newbies absorb the fun, the wonder and challenge of tour.

So what happened that all of a sudden I'm irritable? An attitude problem most likely, or just weariness. I'm not sure what it speaks to, in the end, but I constantly have to catch myself (or fail to) from giving a brusque answer...I don't like it about myself at all.

That said, even as I sort out my inner tangles, the tour is going well. Our TD warned everyone of the onset of Stage 3 in a company meeting a few days ago, the stage in which everyone gets short and irritable. Several of the company members have approached me after and asked if people really seemed that grumpy, and I realized that the answer was no - it was really just those of us who have toured before. Worse, it was mostly just those of us in management and some others about non-show issues. So I commend our younger company for their attitudes and work ethic. They got through a ten-day stretch of intense work without complaint. Now if the rest of us can absorb their energy we'll be set.

Looks Like Rain

At the moment we're in warm - dare I say hot, sunny Texas, and the humidity is soothing our cough-and-cold weary lungs, the sun is drenching us in spirit-lifting Vitamin D and the cast is at last absorbing the spirit of the South from which the heart of their characters springs. Not a bad week, all in all. It was beautiful to see the first night we performed in a town in Arkansas and the cast was transformed by hearing the dialect and tasting the local flavor.

Now, there's something else on my mind that isn't necessarily to do with the show, but is inspired by it.

I wrote in my personal journal that I've never been so aware of being the Outsider as on this tour. Maybe because of my broader experience? The themes of the show? The fact that two of our cast members were arrested in Iowa and the police officers may or may not have been affected by racism? There are so many little nuances drifting in and out of my awareness on this tour, but I look around less with my rose-colored opinions, really look at the smaller towns and the people. I've always felt welcomed and unique and maybe a little oddball, but never unwelcome...

Now sometimes I notice a sideways look or a frown. I'm more aware of when we sweep in and take over the bar that not everyone is amused by the big and broad personalities I have come to love. It's a discomforting thing to become more aware of, in so many ways.

I don't think anyone is wrong - some are just set in their ways, and seeing a flock of twenty actors come bursting into a small town restaurant has interesting effects on people, and not always good. Now I watch the wild and crazy times with concern and a more matronly eye. I watch the expressions of the locals to see if they find us amusing - or irritating, or in some cases threatening. I watch reluctance of some company members to go certain places for business for worry we'll be cheated, or frowned at, and I've never thought much about these things before. I think that either means I'm sheltered, or just too optimistic. I've never felt this way before.

Part of me would rather seek the best and most accepting part of people. If you walk right up to someone with a smile and shake their hand and assume that they'll accept you at least with courtesy, most of the time they do. If you close yourself off before the exchange even starts, make negative assumptions and live in suspicion - I think a lot of times that's what you'll get.

But that's just me, and my own situation. I haven't had to deal with racism or class-ism or anything else really, not much, in my own life. I'm more aware of it now but I think the conclusion I'm coming to is fairly easy - it's the very theme of the play, in fact. Everyone deserves the basic right of respect as a fellow human being. You can't expect people to take you as you are while secretly thinking of them as un-cultured, ignorant crackers, or expect respect and honesty when you yourself hold back. There's a sense in us that's primal, I think, a kind of light that either turns on in you when you interact with another human being - or doesn't. And if your light doesn't shine for them, theirs certainly won't shine for you, and you both close off to each other.

Obviously this play is taking my mind into interesting places. I don't think I'm finding out anything about buried prejudices in my heart, except that of hoping that people are really good at heart (as Anne Frank wrote); except assuming someone is good until they are proven evil, or ignorant, or whatever else. Then you can dismiss them and shut them out of your life and awareness - which I think is better than giving them your energy in anger or in vengeance.

Maybe I'm ignorant of the ignorance and injustice in the world, and I would rather not look at it - but the things you look at are the things you see, in the end. I choose to look toward the light and hopefully shine a little of my own.

1 comment:

Monica said...

WTF? Arrested? Holy WOW!!! I'd like to hear the back story on that one...

Anyway, as always, Jess, you are an eloquent writer...I truly look forward to reading your entries.

Keep on, Sister!