Archive for December, 2013

Who Are Your Five?

Posted in A Note to Directors, Got Me Thinkin', Nuts & Bolts Stuff, Thoughts on Leadership on December 30, 2013 by RobALott

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So the story goes…

It was my parents’ first Christmas together as a married couple. They were still in school and as is so often true with young married couples, the budget was tight and the celebration would be small.

They were asked by one of their professors if they had put up their tree yet. Sadly, they had to answer no, and explain that a tree and decorations were not in the budget that year.

Aghast, the professor exclaimed and explained to them why they needed a tree. He struck a deal with them.

“You get a tree, and I’ll provide the decorations.”

They agreed.

My parents found a small tree suitable for a young newlywed holiday. Their professor arrived at their door with a box of lights, garland, a few ornaments, and some red ribbon.

They began to decorate.

While they were putting the final ornaments on the tree, their professor began cutting the red ribbon and fashioning the strips into bows. He handed a few bows to each and began to explain.

“You are at the very beginning of this journey together. While you are together on this path there will be people who come alongside you to help. Sometimes they’ll help you both, and sometimes they’ll help you individually. Sometimes they will help you for a few months while others will stick with you for decades. Take some time each year to remember who those people were and are, and put a bow on the tree in their honor.”

Thus, the tradition began.

It was just the two of them for a few years. But their family began to grow. My sister and I came along and they taught the tradition to us.

On our Christmas tree growing up, we had twenty red bows. Five for each of us to dedicate. It started somewhat small and predictable. For many years our tree had a lot of bows for Mommy and Daddy, younger brothers and older sisters, and a lot of family pets.

But as we got older and our circles of influencers began to expand, the list extended not only to parents and siblings, but to best friends, teachers, directors, co-workers, significant others, and sometimes entire groups of people that had had significant impacts on our lives that year.

The rules were pretty loose. But the main idea remained; who has helped and encouraged and impacted your life this year?

Who are your five?

Who has helped you and encouraged you and impacted your life this year?

Is it your mom? Your dad? Your sister or your brother? Maybe it is your dog. Maybe it’s a co-worker or a friend.

Who are the people who challenged and inspired you to do more and be more this year?

We all have them. No one has ever accomplished anything without help.

No need for ribbons or bows or big tear filled ceremonies.

Who are your five?

Bonus points for telling your five who they are and why.

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Learning When to Laugh, and at What

Posted in Disentangling Thoughts on Theatre, Got Me Thinkin', Nuts & Bolts Stuff, Quotes on December 2, 2013 by RobALott

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“My friends, you are in a schoolroom…Try to learn when to laugh, and at what.” -from An Actor Prepares by Constantin Stanislavski

I had the pleasure of judging and critiquing a thespian competition recently. It was a great show of talent from the latest generation to take to the stage.

One by one, and two by two, they would begin their scenes under the fluorescent lights of the classroom, making due with a table and a few chairs as their only set dressing. Parents, teachers, and other students would fill the empty desks and line the walls, all being mindful never to cross the line into the peripheral of the judges’ sight.

Prior to each performance, a rules and time keeper would ask that everyone turn off their cell phones and other noise making devices, and then they would announce to the room that there is to be no applause at the end of the scene, as to not disturb the scenes happening in surrounding rooms and also not to hinder the judges’ perception of the performance.

The audiences were seemingly accustomed to this strange behavior, and willing to oblige. However, this left them with only one way to show their appreciation. Their way was with vocal gasps of surprise at the dramatic turns in each scene. Or, to over-laugh or “re-laugh” at an actor’s actions which they had clearly seen rehearsed multiple times, and they knew the line would be just as funny, if not more hilarious this time around.

For those of us that find ourselves in rehearsal audiences often, it is important that we know when to be emotionally moved and what to be emotionally moved by. To know when to laugh and what to laugh at.

These young thespians surely felt comforted, supported, and confident stepping in front of the judges of the competition. But they were given a disservice when their sure delivery of laugh lines brought forced and repeated laughs from those in the audience, while bringing no response from the judges’ table.

As important as it is that the actor give a true performance, it is just as important that we as the audience give a true and honest response.