If one is not careful, it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day to day. The things that need to get done, must get done, should have been done last week, the to do list, the tasks, the this that has to to get done before that. And if I don’t get this, that and the other done, and I won’t get to do whosit. It becomes a merry-go round.
Even at conferences, it’s easy to get caught up in a rigid routine. Fly somewhere, get checked in, get set up, find my workshop room, teach, get everything out in the time allotted, back to the table, break everything down, check out and back on the plane.
It’s easy to forget the greater purpose. To lose moments. To forget that teenagers by in large are not spinning on a merry go-round. They live in the here and now. And when they are in front of you, you must see them, hear them, listen to what they say and what they don’t. Right then, right there in the moment.
It’s easy to not do that. To not listen. To blow them off. Which is the worst thing I could ever do. Kind of belies the whole point of, oh I don’t know, everything we do.
I had a series of amazing moments at the California Thespians conference recently. Moments that I could have easily blown by or missed. Moments I’m so glad and thankful I took the time for.
- I met a student who is directing This Phone Will Explode at the Tone. She was very excited to talk to me and I loved hearing about her process thus far.
- Two students bought one of my plays as a present for a fellow student who couldn’t come to the festival and who was directing Wait Wait Bo Bait. They asked me to sign it for her.
- I got to see a student perform a monologue from Jealousy Jane. He was the jealousy monster and it gave me chills to see his interpretation.
- I got to judge State call backs and watched some wonderful, engaging monologues. The nerves in the room were palpable.
- I met Mary who directed Much Ado High School with middle school students for her senior project. I talked to Mary about her experience which I’ll put in an upcoming post.
I taught a workshop where something really special happened. In general, the students at the California State Festival are amazing to teach. They stare at you with purpose. They want to learn what you have to say. They are dialed in.
One of the things that is so amazing about working with teens is the reverb of resonance. When something resonates with them, it’s like a thunder clap. The reverb that comes back when they get something, when they feel something, when they understand something is wild.
In my Character Slam script analysis workshop we analyzed a monologue which is the last moments of a previously confident, top of the class girl. Usually when I ask questions about this monologue we get the requisite couple of answers and we move on. In this particular class of 45, (which in itself is awesome) almost everyone in the class wanted to say something, wanted to offer their opinion. The air was buzzing with thoughts and resonance. Everywhere I turned someone had their hand up. They wanted to share. And every student had something meaningful to say.
That is a moment I could have easily missed or blown through if I wasn’t paying attention. I could have ignored the hands to get onto the next topic. To move onto the next thing.
The moment was the reason I do what I do. And I’m glad I was there to see it.