Monday, May 12, 2008

on training

so. in the many weeks that i was absent from this blog, something happened.

i went to see the rude mechs perform "the method gun." it was a crazy production. but it was stunning. it's the play that won the rudes both a creative capital and a MAP grant. the city of austin produced it in their newly finished long center. it was a crown jewel. it had all the elements: acrobatics, stage crying, scripted improv, swinging lanterns, guns, a monologuing tiger, actors acting "actors" who are acting theatrical methods, and, of course, "a streetcar named desire."

i, of course, saw it a week before my own play went up. i was in that mode where i could see the stage and the performance from a new angle with a different focus and a clear lens. something about seeing the "method gun" and then being a part of a production with an awesome script clarified everything i've been ruminating over for the past year: i want to perform. and i want to perform forever.

of course, this realization didn't come to me so clearly at first. i just saw the show and immediately thought, "i wonder if i could become a company member of the rudes." having rehearsed weekly at the off center on my solo show a few years back made it seem really, well, doable. so i stopped by the off center and talked to folks there. i was looking for madge, the person who directed my solo show. but in the mean time, i talked with other folks. and they gave me vague answers. "if ya hang out a while, we start to get the feeling you wanna be a company member, and then we vote." or "get us drunk, then we'll spill the beans."

finally, i tracked down madge and we met over coffee. i asked her. and suddenly things got pretty awkward. because madge knows my limitations. madge knows the demands of local theater and the rude mechanicals. and madge doesn't bullshit. which is why i loved her as a director and why i knew she would be the one to talk to. we talked about what the process would entail. logistics. and finally she said, point blank: "well, how serious are you about this?" i hemmed and hawed for a second. and then i said, "i don't think i can help it, madge. i want to some capacity... for... ever." she smiled. and then frowned. "i just wanted to know whether or not you were, you know, dabbling." that madge is astute. so i said, "i think i'm addicted." and she said, "yeah. sorry. it's an affliction." and then she said, "well, kt. if that's how you feel about it. i think you need more training." and then she proceeded to tell me all the different ways the company members had been trained. where i would wanna go, etc. it's because of that conversation that i applied for this week-long intensive in vancouver.


it's a tough word. i've undergone a lot of training. i've been trained as a musician since i was five. i was trained as an academic in grad school. i was trained to be an administrator at UT.

but i still can't shake that feeling. that i'm a dilettante. and i suppose i am. and i enjoy my broad knowledge. but when madge told me i needed more training, i though i would feel discouraged. but quite the opposite. i felt inspired. i felt like i could actually undergo much discomfort to train as a performer.

and i like that i don't have to go back to school, necessarily, to train. there are many intensives offered throughout the year all over the world.

this weekend, wonderful partner and i went to a birthday party for the child of a former colleague of mine. the crowd were mostly older than me, mostly with children. all of whom were professors or other professionals. before, i could just blend in, say "i'm a lecturer at UT." and that was the end of it. but this time, I felt challenged. they would say, "so what do you do?" and i would almost apologetically say, "i'm an artist." to which they would reply, "what kind of art?" and i would say, "oh. (sigh) many things." in the past, i would go on some long, convoluted thing about multi-disciplinary stuff, etc. etc. but this was the first time i came out decisively and explained, "my main focus is performance and writing. i'm working on a solo show for myself and i was recently in a play."

it's a big step. to focus. people still don't get it, unless they are artists themselves or are really into art. but i'm slowly amassing things to show for my past year.

and something keeps telling me that there's another thing, just around the corner. you know those little clicks you hear, just before a bell tower chimes the hour? i feel like i'm hearing those clicks. and the chime is only a little bit away.

i'm excited. and this time, i think the excitement actually eclipses the fear.


la rebelde said...

i like how you talk about your experience as a process. i wonder if we'll ever *not* be in training for one thing or another. it took me a long time to tell people "i'm a historian" when they ask what i do. (instead of "i'm a grad student") it's somehow much more freeing to be able to claim what you do as something you already do, rather than something you're always going to be training to do.

librarian said...

"you know those little clicks you hear, just before a bell tower chimes the hour? i feel like i'm hearing those clicks. and the chime is only a little bit away."

That was an amazing metaphor.