Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What actually happened.

So I rehearsed with Exit 16 for the first time last night and:
  1. I was reminded that summer vacation not only exists to reenergize, but maybe to remind you that you really dig working with high school kids. And by "you" I mean "me."
  2. I changed a bunch of crap, which is typical. And actually made up an exercise or two, which doesn't mean "made up," but "either 'invented something that already exists' or 'morphed some techniques into something only slightly different.'"
  3. I'm getting a good sense of what I've got to work with this year. I wish I had the luxury of spending an entire rehearsal figuring out what they're all about, but "MAK PRODUKT!MAK PRODUKT!"
  4. They don't follow instructions. They were supposed to tell me workshop and show availability by tonight at 6pm. Most did not.
OK. Then...THEN...I got to work with Shawnee Mission South's improv team tonight. What made it fun: One of the girls, Shara, is a Hallmarker's daughter I've worked with before, and she's awesome and it made it easy to be comfortable going in. Plus, they're a small troupe, which is easy to deal with. AND their teacher worked with my Thunderdome teammeate Erik Johnson, so Team #9 may have one more vote.

Turns out I really like teaching improv to high school kids. And I'm thinking it might be, ironically enough, for the EXACT SAME REASON I almost flunked my senior term paper. To connect THOSE dots:
  • I COULD spend a lot of time getting my shit together, but instead, I'm a horrible procrastinator and prepare just enough.
  • Real teachers know everything. I don't...and just have enough of a different perspective that I might accidentally come up with something cool.
  • I may not come up with a SINGLE original idea—but after 43 years I'm comfortable saying I kick ass at pulling a bunch of different ideas together. When I coach or teach, I have to explain that I'm not name dropping—I'm pulling a bunch of different teachers' stuff together in a way that fits the situation. On my stupid term paper, I got accused of plagiarizing because I footnoted the hell out of all the different ideas I pulled together to form one coherent theory.
  • But still, I get REALLY intimidated by teachers. Both "real" teachers at high schools and "real" improv teachers in other cities.
  • And, to be gut-wrenchingly honest, I'm intimidated by high school kids because I'm pretty sure they can smell the geek on me.
  • AND there's no bigger geek moment than going to class after P.E. in high school—you know, trying to wipe down the sweat and make your hair work before you go to class? Tonight I had to go straight from the gym to the workshop. I showed up in sweaty pigtails and no makeup.
  • So (and I recognize at this point that I'm not so much connecting the dots as free-associating)...I went in all geeky and half-ready and unsure.
BUT. And this is part of the reason I love this shit...

Turns out when I love something—and when I stop worrying and trust my instincts and existing in the moment and reacting to what's around me, it starts getting fun. And I can do it.

I watched and listened to the kids and what they needed, and came up with exercises in the moment that made things make sense to them. (Which is what usually happens with the Exit 16 kids.) And we talked after about what they could do brilliantly in their next scene or show, and they realized they're better than they thought.

And OH, MAN. To be corny...REALLY corny...to do even a little thing that helps a high school kid realize he or she is really smart and funny and powerful? Even just for a moment?

That's the crack.

Playing is fun. Playing may be the good wine at the end of the day that makes you think, "Mmmmm. Wine at the end of the day. It is good." But teaching...that's the mind-blowing thing that makes me insane and obsessive and annoying to others, but keeps me coming back.

1 comment:

New rule: I'm not approving anonymous comments. If you want to sit at the grownup table, you have to sign your name.

Now c'mon. Pick a fight.