Archive for August, 2014

Find the Peaks and Valleys…

Posted in A Note to Directors, Disentangling Thoughts on Theatre, Nuts & Bolts Stuff, Quotes, Thoughts on Leadership on August 25, 2014 by RobALott

A Note to Directors:

The words monotonous and monotone have become quite negative and synonymous with boring.

Using these words to describe an actor’s tone and speech pattern will more than likely shut them down and will not fix the problem.

In his book, Fearless Speaking, Gary Genard suggests we use the idea of a “vocal plateau” to describe and fix the issue. (Find the peaks and valleys…that sort of thing.)

Do not forget: The words we use matter. Our words carry a great deal of influence. They can inspire or they can shut down. A big part of our job is helping our actors find their voice to secure the vision and story. That’s kind of a big deal.

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Ignoring the Small and Overvaluing the Big

Posted in A Note to Directors, Quotes, Thoughts on Leadership on August 22, 2014 by RobALott

“Sometimes a big event happens that changes everything. When it does, it tends to affirm the human tendency to treat big events as fundamentally different from smaller ones. When we put setbacks into two buckets—the ‘business as usual’ bucket and the ‘holy cow’ bucket—and use a different mindset for each, we are signing up for trouble. We become so caught up in our big problems that we ignore the little ones, failing to realize that some of our small problems will have long-term consequences—and are, therefore, big problems in the making. What’s needed, in my view, is to approach big and small problems with the same set of values and emotions, because they are, in fact, self-similar. In other words, it is important that we don’t freak out or start blaming people when some threshold—the ‘holy cow’ bucket I referred to earlier—is reached. We need to be humble enough to recognize that unforeseen things can and do happen they are nobody’s fault.”

-Ed Catmull, author of Creativity, Inc.

The Art of Appreciation

Posted in A Note to Directors, Disentangling Thoughts on Theatre, Got Me Thinkin', Nuts & Bolts Stuff, Thoughts on Leadership on August 18, 2014 by RobALott

Do you want your art to be appreciated?

The road to appreciation is paved with preparedness and excellence of presentation.

Being prepared sends a message to your audience that they were not only wanted, but expected.

Being prepared behind the scenes sends a message to those that are helping you that you are for them, supportive of them, and with them.

Be excellent in your presentation. Your honored guests don’t eat off the paper plates. But rather, the finest you’ve got.

Be prepared and polished. Your audience will feel welcomed and appreciated, and they’ll soon begin to appreciate your welcome.

A Good Note

Posted in A Note to Directors, Nuts & Bolts Stuff, Quotes on August 11, 2014 by RobALott

“A good note says what is wrong, what is missing, what isn’t clear, what makes no sense. A good note is offered at a timely moment, not too late to fix the problem. A good note doesn’t make demands; it doesn’t even have to include a proposed fix. But if it does, that fix is offered only to illustrate a potential solution, not to prescribe an answer. Most of all, though, a good note is specific. ‘I’m writhing with boredom,’ is not a good note.” -Ed Catmull

Wise Words

Posted in A Note to Directors, Quotes, Thoughts on Leadership on August 8, 2014 by RobALott

“You don’t need to talk about everything you know.” -My Grandma

An Unused Idea Is Not An Unheard Idea

Posted in A Note to Directors, Creativity, Disentangling Thoughts on Theatre, Got Me Thinkin', Nuts & Bolts Stuff, Quotes, Thoughts on Leadership on August 4, 2014 by RobALott

Years ago, I bumped up against a blocking problem while directing a show. Thankfully, I was given a good suggestion to fix the on-stage traffic issue.

The person giving the suggestion had been on the ground level of a lot of creative ventures with me. Her suggestion would work and I was going to use it.

“That’s a great idea and a great fix. Let’s go with your idea.”

What I got in return shook me a bit.

With shock and surprise in her voice she said, “Thank you!” as though this was the first time I had ever truly considered one of her suggestions.

I was confused. I felt I had always considered her ideas, even though I wasn’t always able to use them. Sometimes her suggested fixes were too complicated and would take too much time. Or maybe the ideas didn’t fit the vision or serve the show.

While that may have been the case as to why I couldn’t use her ideas before, what shook me now was that this was the first time she felt valued—that this was the first time she felt heard.

How can we help those who help us truly feel heard and valued even when their ideas and suggestions go unused?

The answer may have just jumped out of the question.

Listen to the supporters of your vision. Truly listen. Discuss. Ask questions. Get clarity around their ideas. Then either use the idea, or explain why it can’t work.

“There’s a big difference between letting people have their say, and making sure people are heard.” -Jim Collins

Does this take time? You bet!

But the alternative is a culture where even the good ideas are never shared simply because they are feared to never be heard.

A saying that has caught on among the creative teams and circles I travel in:

An unused idea is not an unheard idea.

Of course, don’t use the saying if it isn’t true. Even a great saying is useless if it’s untrue. But as long as it is true, it’s a quick bit of short hand that keeps everyone in a place of understanding.