Wednesday, January 30, 2013

On Timing...

Things happen when they happen. 

This is a topic that I filed away back in October because while it seemed important I really had nothing to say other than the obvious, things do happen when they happen.

I'm in Chicago and after several months of waiting the sabbatical movement is finally shifting into a new stage.  I just had a conversation with Brian Mertes, who works with the Brown Trinity MFA Directing program.  I was fortunate in that Brown does not screen their applicants...they interview everyone...because its becoming increasingly apparent that on paper I do not look like a likely candidate for an MFA Directing program.  Although a couple of folks have assured me that the age thing is not an issue, I really do think it is.  As Brian observed, "Now that I've met you I get're not crazy."  This speaks volumes about what folks are thinking as they look at my application.

Anyway...I'm in Chicago for an interview with Brown Trinity...and it was a really great conversation.  He turned off the timer and gave me an extra ten minutes, which would normally be a good thing but really he did it because he was engaged by my story and wanted to help me puzzle out what I should do with myself...not because he was convinced an MFA in Directing was the right path.

And it is an engaging story, but the question remains...what SHOULD I do now.  At first, Brian was making a bunch of suggestions about theater groups that I might want to connect with...visit...intern...whatever.  Okay, that was weird -- I mean, I'm five minutes into an interview to try and get into a program and the guy has closed the file and is making suggestions that clearly have nothing to do with being at Brown.  So we discuss the merits of this approach for a bit, and if that's the right thing to do then really Minneapolis is one of the main places to do it.

But as the conversation continued I did get to articulating something that I've been circling around but haven't articulated as well as I just did...which is that I don't want to DO theater right now.  I've been doing theater by the seat of my pants for ten, not earth shaking new work -- mostly pretty pedestrian high school and community theater fare -- but never the less I've been doing theater.  What I want to be doing is to be thinking about theater and learning about theater rather than just plunging ahead and doing it.  I've been doing shit of various kinds for 40 years or so...and relatively little time or energy has been spent thinking about the why and the how of that doing.

So, this sabbatical -- and that's a good name for it given what I really want out of it -- is about reflecting on doing and being purposeful in designing what I want to do in the future, presumably with theater.  I think that's why I really do believe that an MFA in Directing is the right path because it is a path that allows me to spend three years learning and reflecting more than I am doing.  And then I can do something on the other side.  It doesn't matter what it is, what matters is that it is purposeful.

So now I'm in the lobby and writing this entry.  In an hour or so I'll go back up for an orientation about the program, which is a bit of a moot point since I don't think I'm a candidate, but on the other hand maybe I'll get to talk to this guy some more...and here's something interesting.  I think if I had had this conversation with him BEFORE he got my application I might have had a pretty good shot.  It may be that what I need to have done was to travel FIRST and visit and meet with MFA programs prior to sending applications in.  Honestly, I think that is why Mankato is interested in me...I met with Paul Hustoles last spring and now he "get's me" and is interested in discussing options.

So here's a new possible goal for the to as many people as possible who are directors and know something about the professional and the MFA world and get their advices.  What should I do?  It's a new question to be asking.

In any event, it has been a great day and I am doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing and whatever is supposed to happen will happen when it happens.

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