Ok, so normally I have great and funny stories to share, but this time I’d like to take a slightly more serious approach. What I feel like sharing transcends the “theatre” world and is something that every single one of us deals with on a daily basis; sometimes we forget that our heads are attached to our necks and keep walking with our common sense left behind, lol
I think one of the most powerful statements that our director gave us in rehearsal (he having been a part of this show from off-Broadway, to Broadway, and on the first National tour) is that the fun and excitement of being on tour and performing a show is a roller coaster. There will be days when everything is amazing, and there will be days where you can’t stand anybody and still expected to perform at a high level. Well, our wonderful group definitely hit a morale low this past week in Alabama, and before I dive into my thoughts on the situation, I will say that not a single person in the audience knew the difference. We still performed our butts off despite the limbo bar of morale being too low for many of us to make it under.
Trust and communication. I laugh to myself sometimes how these two words come out of everyone’s mouth as two of the most important factors in human relationship, yet I find that well over 50% of people are not able to practice what they preach. Through observation, it is easy to make the conclusion that more often than not it comes down to the fear of confrontation. What is everyone scared of?… This is the rhetorical question to be asked because I have found, and any one who’s reading this blog that knows my mother can attest I got this mentality from her, that the quicker you are able to articulate problems and concerns that require delicate confrontation, the quicker a well versed decision can be made, and the less time you waste in worry, anxiety, anger, or contempt. If you are attempting to travel through life with the purpose of avoiding the tenseness of confrontation, you might as well put shackles on your feet and tip-toe around everyone as they watch you with brows furrowed wondering what the heck your problem is (and everyone at one point or another has looked someone in the eye and said, “why don’t you just tell them ____________?”). In many animal species you will encounter confrontation – over territory, over food, over resources, over mating, etc… and to me, the fact that human beings have the wherewithal to formulate a comprehensive argument through language, we should have no excuse to shy away from confrontation. Could you imagine a world where when we had a problem with each other we lowered our heads and tried to ram each other until one of us passed out? (That would actually be kind of funny, now that I think about it, haha)
Ego. If there is an angel and a devil, a yin and a yang – ego is the counter to open and intelligent expression. Many people use the word ego to describe someone who thinks that they “are better” than everyone else. I challenge anyone who uses that definition to amend their statement. The University of Notre Dame is a school PACKED with kids who know they are better than everyone else in their program, BUT that just makes them competitive. Those same kids will sit in a room together in teams and come up with some of the most intelligent designs you’ve ever seen and are willing to accept new information presented to them by their peers. Ego is when you believe that your perception of your understanding is not open to any other interpretation than your own. (Notice how many “your”s are in that statement, remember a common side effect of the mental disease known as “Ego” is when everything is about you.)
When you’re in an office building of hundreds and sometimes thousands of people, you see the people with the “Egos” and avoid them at all cost and only pray they don’t become your boss… when you’re on a bus with only 40 people, oh LAAAAWD!!! If even one person develops or already has an Ego there’s no way to hide from it. Ego is an ever evolving thing. Everyone has the little ego snake inside of them; without ego there would be no purpose for humility. That was literally the cause for every ounce of drama that occurred in our wonderful touring group last week.
I obviously can’t expound upon that confession for ethical and professional reasons as a contracted performer, but I don’t even need to. Anyone who has a family, friends, or a job knows the feeling, lol. Unfortunately, this was the first time in my 25 years as a person that I was unable to be on the outside looking into the drama and managed to find myself actually inside one of the numerous drama circles that had developed. I wasn’t in this circle for having become an egotistical person, I have promised everyone I’ve ever met that I will keep my humility chip on my shoulder with super glue if that’s what it takes. My belief that everyone is my brother and sister until they prove unworthy was tested. Communication was necessary, yet lips remained quiet. With no communication comes a lack of trust as the two compliment each other, with no communication comes the inability to even hear what is happening, let alone listen and add a little ego on top and you’ve created an Unnecessary Turmoil Sundae. It is utterly embarrassing for everyone from first person to third party when issues arise on the job site where something as simple as communication could have solved the problem.
But here’s the interesting part, communication is not simple!! Ding Ding Ding!!! That’s right human beings have a false sense of confidence and take for granted the ability to speak a complex language. Speaking and talking are what’s simple, communicating is difficult. The message should be changed from an early age. I remember as a child the guidance counselor telling us we should “talk it out”. WRONG! Talking it out does absolutely nothing but let a bunch of lips smack in the wind, you might as well be grunting like apes. What that guidance counselor should’ve said is “communicate with each other”. Your “boss” is upset with you and calls you into a room and berates you for something you did – when you leave, more often than not all you have to say is “Screw them…”. You then spend your days doing your best to do juuuust enough work to not piss the boss off. A “manager” (notice the difference in word choice) calls you into the office and is concerned with something you’ve done. Upon presenting you the situation, they offer a solution and present a potential consequence for the disregard of the solution. You’ve been given a directive of how to solve the problem and it’s fixed within the next few days. The next time that situation occurs again, you remember how to handle the situation because it was communicated to you. You still don’t particularly like your manager, but you’re not wasting time worrying if the “bossman” is standing behind you ready to call you useless. Yes I’m aware that’s a perfect example in the Brady Bunch world, but it is the difference between two levels of expression. The “boss” is talking and/or yelling at you about god knows what, the “manager” is assessing a situation and communicating with you to solve a critical work error.
You may be sitting here thinking, this 25 year old kid isn’t telling me anything I don’t already know… You’re right about that, this is no Neil Tyson astrophysicist matter, but why is it that I continue to watch people of all ages argue and cower over trivial matters in complete ignorance of understanding the power of communication. It’s because they’re not actually listening… oooooo, see how that works. It’s an endless cycle of unintelligent expression. I have accepted my fate that as a person who has absolutely no fear of intense communication, that I will often not be received well by people who have insecurities surrounding their ability to express themselves. I challenge and will continue to challenge anyone who wants to consider themselves an open and intelligent person to look fear in the eye and tell it, “you WILL NOT dominate my human relationships!!” – be they work, friend, or fiance/marital. Now… if someone has a 45 caliber pistol in your face, or you’re standing face to face with a rabid hyena, feel free to piss yourself, I sure as hell will. But when it comes to needing to tell a good friend that they offended me yesterday when we were at dinner, telling someone at work that the music in their cubicle is affecting my ability to concentrate, or even expressing to my girlfriend that we’re just not heading in the same direction – it won’t be easy but you better believe that it is a hell of a lot easier to communicate it to them, instead of wallowing in the quicksand of worry, anxiety, anger, and contempt. Seriously, if one of the criteria for “growing up” is learning to communicate with each other, there’s a hell of a lot of 21 – 75 year old teenagers running around this place; I’m declaring right now that it sure as heck isn’t and won’t be me, so how about every one else? Wanna join me at the table of communication brotherhood? or we just going to ignore everyone who fought for us to even be able to speak to each other in public?……. Cool, See ya at the table then, I’ll bring mac and cheese!!!
I expect like 5 of you to have actually read this far seeing as the attention span of my generation is about 30 seconds, but for all who did, I hope even one of you felt reignited to continue communicating on that higher more expressive level.
Always love for my brothers and sisters,