Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Answers to the Questions DV Poses

The Devilvet asks some intriguing questions about collaboration on this day. Here are my answers:

In what ways do you express your enthusiasm for the process while in its midst?

Most of my enthusiasm goes to the collaborators involved with the show. I want to create a positive, fun, giving and receiving environment for our actors, designers, etc. If I can spread my enthusiasm for the project to those directly involved, it's my hope that they will let everyone and their mother know about the project because they'll be proud enough of the show to help get people in the seats.

Specifically? I am very vocal when I love something that's happening in the rehearsal or a design being presented. I physically show my enthusiasm and loudly proclaim how awesome it is. And I will repeat myself as many times as necessary so people know that I'm serious about it. I'm not always enthusiastic so when something truly gets me going, you know it. Positivity combined with clear, specific feedback does wonders for an acting environment.

Do you take it for granted that everyone is enjoying your contributions?

I don't. I'm paranoid enough to think that people might not be enjoying my contributions and might very well think I'm being a psycho hose beast. I try to check in with everyone as much as possible to make sure everyone is enjoying the process and, if they're not or there's disconnect somewhere, I do my best to communicate with everyone about whatever problem we're having ... especially if I'm the cause of it. I have, in the past, become quite indignant that people weren't having as good of a time as I would have liked them to have. We can't pay our collaborators much so if people think they're having a terrible experience, it really bothers me and I personally think I've failed the ensemble and the project.

Do you send out emails when interesting ideas and directions occur to you?

No, not really. If we're in the process, I'd rather just talk to them before or after rehearsal. Or, if need be, call them on the phone between times. I have communicated via email with actors early on in the process to talk about their characters, but I'd really rather save that talk for rehearsal. It can be helpful, but I'd rather see the ideas set in motion as soon as possible to see if they're a go or not. I once worked with a director who would send emails a couple of hours after rehearsal with acting notes and blocking ideas. I thought it was a passive aggressive move. I didn't understand why we couldn't have the conversation in person.

If we're between shows or on hiatus, as it were, I sometimes will email people about things GreyZelda might do in the future to see what people think about it. Most of the time, I just brainstorm with Chris whenever he's feeling like talking about the theatre company.

Do you sit on them for a while and only present them when face to face?

I can't say I sit on things for a while. In fact, I'm too impulsive for my own good and will often feel that whatever idea has popped into my head needs to be acted on immediately or else it'll drive me crazy. These impulses have gotten me in trouble on occasion, especially if they've been driven by anger. If anger is the ignition, I've learned to sit on those ideas for a bit.

Do you pull folks aside and whisper in their ear?

If we're in the middle of the scene and I'd like the actor to play around with different motivations, I'll pull them aside and give them a direction so their scene partner can't hear and will be surprised when the actor returns to the scene. I like the secrecy of the game.

Do you insist on voicing concerns immediately?

Yes. Unless fueled by anger as stated earlier. It's best to try to be as zen-like as possible when dealing with people and collaborators.

If you concede, when do you?

I rarely argue with an actor unless the actor is telling me how to do my job. But, in the end, I'll concede to an actor. If a lot of collateral damage is being done because I won't concede and it's hurting the ensemble as well as the company, I'll concede.

If you don't, how do you manage it?

By being an indignant, stubborn bastard who should know better. Really, in the end, it's better to concede. Unless, it makes you physically ill to concede. Then, don't. Embrace the all powerful motto of "Fuck it." Or the even more aggressive "Fuck them and the donkeys they rode in on." Whatever works for you. But, really, it is best to concede. There are many things I haven't conceded on and don't see myself doing so in the near future, but ... when it comes to your collaborators, you really should. Unless they need to be booted because they're not doing anything positive for the company. In that case, tell them to get the fuck out.

Are you the kind of person who thinks that once the metaphor of conflict arises the game is lost?

I really like to have everyone get along and if someone really crosses the line, I feel very sad about it because I know we can't go back from it unless one of us gives up a little something of ourselves. I do feel a sense of loss when this happens. I think that things can be fixed with a lot of communication, empathy and understanding, but, in my experience, it takes a certain kind of person to accomplish that and move forward without remembering the conflict that once was. I do try to move forward, if possible, but I do, truly, hate the conflict and rarely work with those who consistently brought the conflict into the process again. And, the feeling is probably mutual from those who thought I brought the conflict.

Do you secretly enjoy/need opposition in order to establish your own position?

Oh no. I hate it in an artistic process. I prefer everyone maintaining their professionalism and not behaving like assholes. If we can all avoid being assholes ourselves, the whole thing will be so lovely to work on and we'll all walk away from it feeling good about the months we spent working on something.

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