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Musings on a Dissertation

Thesis: a definition – the main idea, opinion, or theory of a speaker or writer, who then attempts to prove it. (Cambridge English Dictionary)

If this is the definition against which I am to judge the success of my thesis, then I have failed utterly. Here we are, less than a week before my undergraduate thesis production of Don Juan Comes Back From the War opens and I’m left with far more questions than answers. And as I sit here trying to knock out my work for the coming week so I can devote myself fully to this tech process, here are some musings on the process, for whatever it’s worth.

  1. The only way I could ever direct this play, or any play really, is through myself. The job necessitates that I find all the characters in myself. The moments I failed to muster the courage to stare the characters boldly in the heart are the moments I failed the play.
  2. It is easy to dismiss a moment as impersonal when you don’t have to watch it over and over again. I cast my mind back to all of the times I’ve sat in the theatre and thought, “That doesn’t apply to me. I would never do that. How awful it is that there are people in the world to whom that applies.” I wonder now how many of those dismissals are manufactured because it’s terrifying to interrogate your own soul. That is a luxury that one does not possess when directing.
  3. I find a healthy dose of arrogance essential to the craft. If I am to be responsible for the cohesion of a piece of theatre, for shaping and crafting each moment, I must believe, and must inspire belief, that I am wholly and singularly qualified for such an endeavor.
  4. At the same time, critical to my process is the constant dissection of my own position in the world and position in the room based on my identity.
  5. The deeper I go, the less I know. Each new discovery leads to many more questions. So hopefully, when all is said and done, on Saturday night our audience will see a compilation of our questions, anxieties, and discoveries on stage.

In that regard, this thesis is more of a hypothesis, one that we posed long ago back in October that fell away in the waves of questions that succeeded it. And so it goes.

This thesis is not the end of an undergraduate career, but the beginning of a line of investigation and discovery.

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