Take the note, hold onto the joy

Amy DoSo I survived another show week, just barely. I have been sick for like 2 solid weeks during what has been the most eventful week of my whole year. That’s always the way with this old body of mine.

It was finally Kinkonauts show week! It seems like I have been waiting on this for a lot more than two months, I was excited to see all the shows and even more excited to have an opportunity to perform with my amazing group I practice every week with, STU.

Well besides having to work through the plague at work, due to a lack of sick days, it was also my first official week as a “Manager”. Getting this title meant a lot for me because I feel like it validated the turnaround I have made in the past year. I felt proud of the work I had put into my career and my life outside of work. But here’s what I have learned so far about being a manager, I am doing all the same work I did before but with more meetings, responsibilities and just for a tad bit more money. The thing is I am not quitter, once I am committed to something I follow through. I can be stubbornly persistent and often push myself a little too hard.

On performance day with the Kinkonauts, Wednesday, I had a hectic and feverish (literally, I had a fever and I was sweaty) day at work. After work I felt burned out, sick enough to question if I should do the show. But then that old stubbornly persistent voice screamed in my head, “Buck up princess! This is one of very few times to perform! You’re doing this!” So I popped a few Dayquils and pumped some jams and revved myself up. By the time I got to the theatre, I was buzzing from the cold drugs and the energy around me.

Being on stage was a blur, I don’t remember quite what I did and why I did it, I just did it and I had fun! Immediately after, I felt great! I felt a surge of adrenaline go through me and I wish I could bottle that immediate moment of joy of post improv. Then we headed back and gave notes to each other. It is here where all that joy is sprinkled with judgement, self-doubt and regret. I focused too much on cake, I did not have variety of characters that I brought to scenes and the opening music scene, which I initiated, did not make too much sense. We had done better sets in rehearsals. All the instant joy was deflated when we tore it a part afterwards.

And this is a big issue I am having with improv. When you google search improv quotes you will find words such as: “There are no rules in improv”, “Fail gracefully”, etc. This art form I love so much is supposed to be spontaneous, in the moment, free flowing make-‘em-ups that is beautiful because you don’t have to worry so much about failing. So in essence, it is hard for me to understand the concept of “notes”, especially immediately after that sweet improv high. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that you need to be aware of your habits, strengths and weaknesses to be able to grow and move ahead. And I think if each improviser is really honest with themselves, they can point out all the things they need to work on. And in workshops that is the perfect place to address those issues but I don’t really understand the concept of picking up a part something that brought you pure joy moments before. The funny thing is most of the notes I got, I gave to myself.

Anyways, the set was not perfect but it was a chance to get to share, with my few family and friends that came and a bunch of wonderful strangers, what I love doing most.

The week ended with a chest infection diagnoses and I was ordered to bed rest. It was here in these moments of rest that I promised myself to hold onto the joy but listen to the note too and take ownership of what you have created on stage. It is hard thing for me to do, especially being my own worst critic. But without the joy, improv is just more work and I have more than enough of that in my life these days!

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