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Keeping It In the Room

Over the past few days, I have found myself constantly reminded of a conversation we had in class recently about what it means to be a generous artist in a collaborative process. It was the discussion in which we talked about the value of “keeping things in the room,” and finding ways to voice your thoughts for the benefit of others rather than holding onto them.

I know for me as an actor, this is something I struggle with greatly. I think more often than not I place a greater burden on myself than what is actually being asked of me. Rather than voice my confusion or frustration about something in the room, I opt to take it home with me and figure it out on my own. Normally my intentions are good. I convince myself that it is better for me to deal with things on my own as to not hinder the process or take up too much time on something that may not apply to everyone else.  But what our conversation last week made me realize is that more often than not, there is probably someone else who may have a similar question or opinion. Even if no one else necessarily feels the same way as me, there may also be a possibility to open up a conversation that could lead to greater clarity for the group at large.

As I’ve been living with this notion of feeling more comfortable putting my voice in the room, I’ve started to ask myself why it is that my default seems to be to work through things on my own. So far here are my theories:

  • Being a young theatre artist still perceived as “inexperienced”
    • I think age is a big thing for me when it comes to taking up space in a rehearsal process. I know this to be true because I’ve started to compare my experiences of working with my peers versus working with older directors and professors. Obviously there is an inherent ease and comfortability that comes with collaborating with friends or people who are the same age as me. There are less barriers between us and statuses are usually a bit blurred. But when it comes to working with professors, there is a power structure that I find myself very intimated and silenced by. This is not so much a judgement on the individual professor or director, but rather the fact that my brain has been programmed for eighteen years to keep a sort of personal distance from my teachers.
  • Being a woman
    • I’m not sure how much I really need to expound upon this. Again, this is less of a critique of the actual men I have been taught or directed by, but rather an adopted attitude that I feel both parties put on when working together. I know that I have to constantly check myself when I am working with a male director because I tend to subconsciously make myself smaller. This comes out in many ways, but primarily it means that I literally silence my voice, sometimes to mere oblivion, in the rehearsal room.
  • Being the way I am….
    • I also acknowledge that I as a person am very independent and can often times convince myself that I can solve any and all problems that come my way. Sometimes this means that I have difficulty asking for help, which pushes me in the direction of trying to deal with things on my own. I think I may also have a deeper fear associated with asking for help, and furthermore how I will be perceived if I do ask for help. But I have yet to fully unpack that one….

So what can I do moving forwards? As I continue my journey as a collaborative artist, I need to keep reminding myself that it is so much more useful to air any and all questions/concerns I may have while I am still in the room. It is easier and generally just more fun to be in process with other people, and I don’t need to unnecessarily burden myself with going through an entire process on my own. I know that I am capable of engaging in and sparking intelligent, enlightening, and pertinent conversations that are wanted and beneficial to me and those I am working with.

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