Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
Speaking of education and frustration; hell of an evening with the ASM kids tonight. One girl actually quit over what seemed to be her inability to tolerate any longer the bullshit of some of the other students in the program.
I can’t say as I blame her, if that’s the reason she left. Tonight was a particularly gruesome exercise in temper management for me.
Question: What’s the easiest direction you can give an actor that you can then reasonably expect the actor to execute exactly as you wished?
Answer: Quiet backstage.
I yelled this particular demand so many times tonight that the words lost all meaning; for all the good it did me…half the time I asked the students offstage to please allow the scene onstage to have some quiet in which to work, I received derisive laughter and occasional mocking echoes from behind the curtains. At least once, and I can’t confirm I heard this or who did it if I did in fact hear it, my demand was met with somebody echoing it back to me in a fake Indian accent.
When I took the group to task about this at the end of the rehearsal, the conversation went like this (more or less verbatim):
Me: Why is it so hard for you to just please stop all the chatter backstage?
Student 1: We’re teenagers!
Student 2: You can’t keep yelling at us to be quiet. You heard. People just get louder.
Me: Then if I can’t yell, what do you propose I should do to make sure you keep quiet back there?
Student 3: You know what you can do? Pay us $30 more apiece!
I don’t need to rehash again what I’ve already expressed in regards to the ASM payment system and the city-mandated group-size minimums, the latter of which is what kept me from firing over half the group at once tonight.
Early in the rehearsal, Karla expressed her displeasure at being unable to get my co-teacher’s attention right when she asked for it by pointedly saying to him, “I don’t like being ignored, Ben.”
And I just about burst out laughing, holding back from proclaiming, at full voice, that it seemed like all Ben and I do in this program is work around how often we’re ignored.
I know there are good teaching experiences out there; I’ve done a few of them now. But tonight all I could think was that I tore myself away from other things I could have been doing, that I had to skip half a rehearsal with a number of wonderful people who make me feel vital and refreshed every time I work with them, that I drove about a hour in construction and rain to deal with a handful of really talented, hardworking kids and a louder, larger proportion of wrecking balls who can smile at me and then attempt to extort more money in order to stop talking.
I’m both an optimist and a humanist by nature, and normally I don’t find these philosophies to be contradictory. Tonight was a test of that conviction; I’m not sure I’ve passed it yet.