2.20.2013

Remember SNL's Short Attention Span Theater? (Or was it MADtv?)

Sometimes having a short-attention-span memory is a really good thing. Slights are quickly forgotten, grudges released, and negative vibes are easily dismissed.

I forget often about the downside of that short-attention-span memory, though. I think of myself as an administrator, someone who facilitates the art-making, the connections, but doesn't get too entrenched in the details. Which is ridiculous - I started as a performer and an educator - someone whose very professional existence was related to those crazy, messy details; people, situations, drama, music. I'm involved in all of them currently, but my job is to minimize the crazy and messy, and to maximize the people, situations, artistic values.

Tonight I spent just a few hours with high school students, working on their spring musical - a mammoth event that requires commitment, long hours and that also carries huge social implications for the performers. But here's the thing: those singers? easily jumped through the difficult hoops. Some of the easier tasks they struggled with, because they were tied to perception, to the medieval social morés of high school. (Don't laugh - we ALL remember them, to some degree.) But the soloists and chorus, all walked -willingly! - through the door and met my expectations and challenges.

Exhilarating stuff.

It's not something that a classroom teacher gets to see often, being so close to the action... but, as the visitor with little knowledge of backstories and such? Well, it was a wonderful, wonderful thing.

When I was a student, Janet Bookspan gave a series of master classes at my undergrad, and I remember marveling at her insight, her approachability, her knowledge and good humor. I remember wanting to BE her - not Janet the director, or the personality, but the Janet who came in, reiterated all of the things that the classroom teachers said (because, let's be honest, that wasn't the first time ANYONE had heard these things!), and shook things up enough that the students could actually take the advice. She stirred the pot, made things feel fresh, different, uncharted. It was scary, but taking responsibility for my artistic choices was ultimately so very empowering.

Every time I have these opportunities? I remember how magical my coachings with her seemed. And I count myself so very fortunate to have been extended the opportunity to pay back a little bit of what I was given.

Magic begets magic. Beauty begets beauty. Inspiration and incisiveness... well, you get the point.


(Thanks to ELF and her students for the lovely trip down memory lane.)

4 comments:

Brenda said...

Ah, been a long time since I've thought about Bookspan! Did we revere her because of her, or because of what she was made to represent by her scarcity, though? But,as always, a wonderful post...

Brenda said...

Ah, been a long time since I've thought about Bookspan! Did we revere her because of her, or because of what she was made to represent by her scarcity, though? But,as always, a wonderful post...

Brenda said...

Ah, been a long time since I've thought about Bookspan! Did we revere her because of her, or because of what she was made to represent by her scarcity, though? But,as always, a wonderful post...

Rahree said...

You know, I think the scarcity was part and parcel of the whole experience...if she were a regular part of the proceedings, maybe we wouldn't have been able to hear what she had to say as clearly?