I’m stilling reveling in the afterglow of Drama League Professional’s Week. When I was assisting Davis McCallum, Drama League alum, we would talk about Professional’s Week and he would call it Wonder Week. Whenever he would say Wonder Week he would have this kid-like gleam in his face. The term Wonder Week brought to mind images of an amusement park. I imagined myself getting on ride after ride, enjoying thrill after thrill. Professionals Week, Wonder Week, was a lot like that! To give a short list of all the thrills and rides, er, amazing people, board members and events we encountered…Maria Goyanes of The Public Theatre, Mandy Greenfield of MTC, Producer Jack Viertel, Jack Cummings III of The Transport Group, Morgan Jenness with Abrams Artists, Casting Director Cindi Rush, Molly Meador of TheatreWorks USA, Costume Designer Michael Krass, Directors Pam McKinnon and Alex Timbers. And we saw theatre! End of the Rainbow, The Lyons, Other Desert Cities, Venus in Fur, Peter and the Starcatcher, Lonely, I’m Not. And The Drama League Awards!! Each meeting and event was so rich and experiential.
I think the best part of the week was meeting and spending time with the class of 2012 Drama League Fellows. DL Artistic Director Roger Danforth and DL Executive Director Gabriel Shanks said this is the second year they have grouped all of the Drama League programs together for Wonder Week…. and I’m so glad they did. As the week went on, with each meeting and side conversation, I could feel my understanding myself as an artist getting deeper and clearer. The ten directors I was spending time with throughout the week were so centered in who they are as artists. I imagine, like me, they were also getting clearer with their artistic voice and mission throughout the week. As Morgan Jenness would say, we were tapping into our “core artistic self”. By the end of the week I felt so clear with why I am a theatre director, and so clear about the kind of theatre I hope to make. I owe this to the experience of being surrounded by people and artists who were able to reflect back to me my core artistic self.
What I learned: I learned that collaboration is the key to growing as an artist.
Directing can be a lonely endeavor. Sure we can grow by experiencing life on our own terms, following our own dreams and curiosities and being our own artistic islands. Yes. But what’s the fun in that? We can also grow by peering into the lives and souls of those around us, and letting those souls reflect back to us our own images like mirrors. When we share dreams, stories, aspirations and hardships, it gives us the chance to see ourselves reflected in each other, and gives us the chance to contemplate the things we don’t like about our artistic selves and nurture the things we do. I want to grow as an artist and I want to be my best artistic self and that takes collaboration. If I may borrow the lyrics of the late Fred Ebb from the musical Chicago, Wonder Week has taught me, “I simply cannot do it alone.”