Thursday, October 15, 2009

action without thought VS. thought without action

I feel that I am at my best when I'm in the rehearsal hall. Marsha once talked to me about it as "selving" - that I am most myself when I'm directing, when I'm engaged in that process, getting my hands dirty in the rough and tumble work that is meaningful collaboration.

I've been deep in that process over the past weeks, wading into and through a script I fell in love with on first reading months and months ago. One that I'm proud to have been able to bring to life with an ensemble unlike anything I've encountered before and a production team - to my mind - unparalleled in Chicago theatre.

It's opening night. I'm allowed to be a little gushy.

My work on the show is essentially done. Tonight I fully hand over the reigns to my 10 incorrigible actors and ninja stage manager. But my brain is buzzing this morning for sure, and the show is helping to crystallize or at least contextualize that turbine. There a section in The Man Who Was Thursday that interrogates the paradoxes of thought without action and action without thought. Both are problematic for various reasons (and potentially disastrous). As I look around at a lot of the warring blogosphere posts of late, it occurs to me that we suffer as a community from a preponderance of both. Which is why I am so over-the-moon about what Chris Ashworth proposes.

This is an idea to be interrogated, surely. There are myriad ways to go about building a new model. But - just like in the rehearsal hall - we can sometimes get bogged down in theoretical gymnastics to the point where we talk ourselves to a place of "why bother" rather than "let's try it and see." I'm interested in running my company - and my life for goodness sake - more like I run a rehearsal. I want to make big, bold (considered) choices and pursue them with life and soul and vigor. If they fail, I want to take what I've learned and apply that not to a safer or more cautious or more (god help me) traditional route - but to the next Big Bold Choice. I want to move away from Thought Without Action.

Which is where the considered part comes in. I'm not a fan of pendulum swings. I don't want to become someone who goes whole hog into action with thought. That can be just as catastrophic, just as deadly. What I'm looking for is balance - calculated risk, cautious optimism (instead of the rampant "things are awful and we'll never ever change them" mentality I'm seeing circulated). From that place of balance, we engage our core and take our first trembling steps into a future defined by our innovations.

The wheels of change sometimes behave like the wheels on the cart I always seem to get at the grocery store - they stick in certain places. They've been gummed up by folks who came before. They've rusted from being left out in the rain. BUT - with coaxing, maneuvering - with (god help us) creativity - why can't we get that cart to go where we want it to? We may not get there in a straight line - in fact, we will not get there in a straight line - but we will get there.

My brain is freaking out from the sheer possibility of it all. It's overwhelming and inspiring - and exactly the sort of thing a girl who's most herself when she's making art needs to think about on an opening night.