Teaching Drama

Failure. The Good Stuff.

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. – Thomas Edison

In general, I think, we assume that other people around us don’t fail. Jimmy Joe NEVER fails. At anything. We’re the only losers. We’re the only ones who make mistakes, do things wrong, screw up. Which of course is hogwash, poppycock, horsehockey and bullfeathers. (Side note, I always loved the way they made Colonel Potter swear on MASH. It always came across as words he would use ((instead of when well meaning playwrights have teenagers say ‘heck!” in their gritty urban dramas)) and he always said them with such enthusiasm and spirit. BULLFEATHER. Hee.)

We all fail. Everybody. That person you think the sun shines out of their neither regions? They fail. The person who can manufacture gold by peeing on coal? Fail, fail, epic fail.

The problem is we have come to consider failure as a problem. Something we don’t want, like food poisoning. And more than that, we like it when others fail, we find intense glee in the downfall of others. Which is probably why we’ve become so gun-shy about failing ourselves. We don’t want that razor fanged, blood dripping clawed glee pointed at us.

BULLFEATHERS. (hee) Failure is essential to moving onward and upward in life. And truly, this is as much directed at myself as it is outward cause lord knows I hate being laughed at. Hate. It. But how can we know what true success is without falling on the banana peel? And, what we often fail to realize is that those who are successful aren’t peeing on coal, they are failing and getting up. Failing and getting up. Fail, get up. Fail Up. Fail up. Edison did not succeed with every invention. Walt Disney was bankrupt at 22.

Because what fail really means is risk. You’ve taken a risk. Risk is a, well, risky place. You never know what’s going to happen with a risk. You’re essentially grabbing on to an idea and jumping out of the plane. And maybe there’s a parachute, maybe not, maybe it gets tangled, maybe it’s a teeny baby chute. But if you never jump, you’ll never know what could happen. I recently listened to a Seth Godin podcast, in which he related a story telling some staff members that if they didn’t fail at something in the next six months, they were fired. And he wasn’t being the big mean boss. He was saying, stop playing it safe. Take a risk and see what happens.

And now, bringing this ship back to Theatrefolk….Craig and I are currently planning what we lovingly call ‘our fail projects.’ We’re going to present them to each other in December. Don’t misunderstand, these are not projects that we EXPECT to fail. We want them to be HUGE. We’re going to do whatever we can to make them succeed. They are projects we think are risky. We don’t know how our customers are going to react. We don’t know if we’ll present them in the right way. We just don’t know and there’s no predicting. There’s some of course – we’re not going to start promoting plays about middle aged business men who are going through midlife issues and getting trophy wives. But there’s no knowing the end result.

We’re just going to have to jump and see what happens….

About the author

Lindsay Price