To those reading this post, especially if we do not know each other, I hope you will consider yourself a friend. I hope you will put as little distance between my writing and your reading as possible. And, I hope we can begin a new conversation, together.
Professionals Week: A Wrestling Match
The Fellowship started with a "spiel". 1 minute long, an introduction. Roger, our wonderfully present and now (former) Artistic Director, asked us to compile this introduction in order to move more quickly through what would become a fast-paced week of hellos, goodbyes, and hope we cross paths again soon.
This was a difficult task for me. How do I deeply share myself in one minute towards a room of unknowns? These artists and this organization will be giving me their precious moments in time and so they deserve something revealing and true.
I was relieved when we sat down on the first morning and the question to lead our first dialogue was along the lines of, "What moment brought you to the theater & inspires your work today?"
We went around the room, staff and DL Fellows both, for almost an hour and engaged in a collective sharing. There was an electric current, minutes of laughter, followed by nods of understanding and an occasional sigh of relief from a Fellow who had made it through. When it came time for me to share, I employed this relief in describing how I came to the theater: 10 years old, painfully shy, desperate to avoid Texas heat and outdoor camps, a chance to spend the summer with a best childhood friend.. and maybe even having a first girlfriend. And although the prospect of this fictitious girlfriend was probably reason enough for me to stay, what made it impossible to leave was the first sense of community I ever felt outside of my family. A new "family".
So, my introduction went something like this:
the Work I've Done.
The Work I Will Do.
The Theater Which Excites Me.
And maybe the theater which doesn't.
I am How I Got To The Theater.
And a sprinkle of a Spiritual Internal Rhythm I am currently cultivating.
I am a Hangar Fellow.
When I finished, I quickly scanned back and moved through what I had said.. the sensations, response, and wondered if I had struck at truth. I realized that I had come to share just two things: a glimpse of me defined by past and a glimpse of who I hope to become defined by work. One felt warm and one felt....
And thus began the first moment of wrestling.
I can't say for sure, but I felt a similar sense from the other Fellows. A body of identifying work which didn't quite seem like identity alongside a deep tendency towards connection; genuine, open, full.
During a lunch in the middle of the week (and on Gabriel's birthday), Judith Light revealed a path for us called "Being". She told us, heart wide open, that our lives as artists would only be as fulfilling as our lives as humans. Judith's advice came at a pivotal moment in the week - we had just spent 2 and a half days in the midst of the "business" or how to do business, build relationships, utilize press, balance multiple projects, and fill our financial potential to maintain a life in the theater. Difficult but necessary, Judith, among many others throughout the week, opened our eyes and ears to embracing this necessity with the same excitement as we would any creative venture. We would need to find a way to marry these seemingly paradoxical elements.
And this is, in fact, our job. If only to reach further audience than we have before.
If Professionals Week taught me anything, it is that there is no one concrete way to get to there. Wherever "there" is. Every artist we encountered grew from a unique series of events and spoke from the place which they could, that place called Experience. From the Artistic Director round table with Neil Pepe, Susan Bernfield, and Hal Brooks to the meeting with Jack Viertel to our conversations at The Public with Maria Goyanes and Jack Moore, it became clear that anyone who stuck with it, did their work, and kept their head down came to the surface with eyes wide open, brushes in hand, and buckets and buckets of paint. They called these buckets "friends & family" and the final product "play". You could see the light in their eyes when they spoke. A golden hour.
"Don't be an asshole" they all said. And I thought about that little dog from Nietzsche's quote.
Sights are set for the Hangar Theater. I am now wrestling with two texts for shows and a schedule which seems full and almost impossible. There is an opportunity to stand face to face with more unknowns, a passionate community of Ithacans, and learn as much as humanly possible.
I think that's what the Drama League is all about.
If you've made it to the end, thank you for allowing me to share. I imagine you have invested your time and energy into theater's existence and I am grateful to be supported by your generosity.
Until next time,
P.s. - I would love to hear from you. You can reach me through my website: www.drewfeldman.com