It has been nearly a month since Professionals Week and it’s only now, with some much needed perspective, that I’m able to sit down and write a blog post that can accurately depict the full impact of that experience.
Professionals Week - Wonder Week, as it were - was a completely life-changing experience. I honestly had no idea what to expect going into it. I mean, I had a vague understanding of what the week would consist of - meetings with directors, lunches with board members, dinners with artistic directors, and a show every night - but it ended up being so much more than the sum of its parts.
The most incredible part of the week, and of being awarded a Drama League Fellowship, has been the legitimacy - the stamp of approval. We are now a part of a fraternity of directors, and are following in the footsteps of people who have been leaders and inspirations to us for years.
I have been directing for eight years now, but there’s only so many times you can claim to be a director before you start doubting the self-proclaimed title. Sure, I direct plays regularly. Sure, I run my own theater company. But I’m not necessarily getting HIRED to direct; I am by no means making a living from my directing work. Whenever I tell people that I’m a director I get the same initial response - a look that says “oh that’s cute” and “but you’re so young”. Is 27 young? Do I have to be in my 40s and directing on Broadway before I can actually call myself a director?
Well, in a field where one hears “no” time and time again, the Drama League is here to say YES. What they have essentially done for the ten of us is say “Yes, you are a director. Yes, we think you have a unique vision. Yes, we believe that you can change the face of the American theater. Yes. Yes. Yes.”
And that simple act has made all the difference. Sometimes a vote of confidence is all you need to take that next step to realizing your full potential, and when that vote of confidence comes from an institution like the Drama League - well, hot damn.
Wonder Week was invigorating. It was revitalizing. It made my brain work in ways that it hadn’t in a long time, and allowed me to drop any insecurity and say to myself and to the world: Yes, I am a director.
What’s more, I have never felt so immediately connected to a group of people than I did with my fellow fellows. Sure, we’re all directors, but there was no sense of competition whatsoever. Only love and support and encouragement. Shared ideas meant to push each other. Moments of honesty that have become rare in the normal course of our lives.
On the very first night of Professionals Week, the ten of us were sitting at a large dinner table with Roger Danforth, Jim Nicola, and Drama League board member Ellen Fox, and it hit me like a ton of bricks: this experience is going to change my life in a big way, and these people - these brilliant and talented directors - are going to inspire me for years to come.
Here we go…