How I Started Making My Own Work
When I was a teenager, I started a theatre company with my friends. Although we really just wanted to do something productive with our summers, we still thought of it as a “theatre” company with an “re”. More “artistic” than the more commonplace “theater” with an “er”. There was a sense that we were doing something special, beyond what most people who just like the accolades and attention of performing might do. We wanted to contribute more. So, we wrote a show. We cast ourselves. We called a local school and brokered a deal so that we could perform our show for an audience of family, friends and supporters. We rehearsed in a church basement for weeks, created our own costumes, designed our own sets and managed the publicity. For two performances.
For these two performances, I wrote, produced, acted, sang, designed, organized, marketed and directed. None of it felt like work. It all funneled into something I could not see as it was happening: the growth of my creativity.
When you’re working on all of those cylinders, you’re transformed. You’ve gained skills and experience and see what happens on the front lines of the arts from backstage…and that is empowering. That allows you to get in the game in a way you can’t when you’re offering only one of these parts. And it makes you a better writer, producer, actor, singer, designer, organizer, marketer and director.
The show was called …and don’t fall into the orchestra pit. It was a revue of monologues, songs and skits about the people you encounter behind the scenes in music, theatre and production. We were really performing versions of ourselves and offering tips to our audience about what it’s like to be one of those people onstage or in the wings…with one last tip: don’t fall. Like it was the worst thing you could do – falling; failing. Now I know the real tip is not being concerned about falling when you make something, but to not make something at all, whether it has an “re” or an “er” in the title.