Recently I started a theatre company with my six best friends. I know, I know, what the hell were we thinking? Sounds like a really great way to ruin a bunch of relationships, doesn't it? Oh, did I mention one of those six best friends is also my boyfriend? LOLOLOLOL! As I'm writing this it's just sinking in how terrible this looks on paper: Let's all just super casually work, play, drink, bank, kiss, create, and fight with the exact same group of people. We spend almost 40 hours a week together working on the biggest production any of us have ever embarked on and then after the work is done we all hang out together (some of us even live together!) That seem healthy to you, right?
But here's the kicker. It's actually really working. I'm enjoying the whole thing and no one has been murdered yet. I think we have to consider that a success. We are by no means perfect and are still in the thick of figuring out a process that works best for us. These are the things that I've learned so far on this weird little journey.
1. Elsa has it right, "Let It Go!" If you're not willing to compromise and make some concessions you may as well move in to a kingdom of isolation cause it looks like you're the queen. (Woah, dope "Frozen" reference, Hannah!) Not everything is gonna go your way. In fact, most things won't. Once I realized that I wasn't as smart or creative by myself as the whole room was together it became a lot easier to be open to new ideas and less tied to my particular way of thinking. The reason I signed on to join this band of gypsies is because I truly respect each individual as an artist. Unfortunately, that means I have to let go of my own need to control each outcome because, like, obvi all those artists I respect so much have better ideas than me...sometimes. It's easy to say (or sing in Idina Menzel's case) but a trillion times harder to actually do.
2. Be open about money: Oh man, money makes people feel weird. I lucked out and decided to work in the arts where everyone is super surprised if we have any money at all. But, making sure people get paid back on time, keeping receipts, keeping detailed records, keeping track of every dollar is super important to me. It's hard enough to focus seven artists on one common goal so you can't muddy any of that with worrying about money.
3. Remember this project is the least important thing you'll ever do: One time when I was having an existential crisis about the direction of my life, a wise man with feathers in his hair who used to live in a van said: "If you're doing it right, whatever you're working on right now will be the least important thing you'll ever do." And he's right. I think it's so important as young emerging artist to remember that whatever you're doing is a stepping stone to something bigger. We haven't figured much out but we do know that we need to Malcolm Gladwell style get our 10,000 hours in. That alleviates some of the stress of trying to make everything perfect and free us up to be nicer to each other. It ain't ever gonna be perfect, but if we keep at it we might get pretty damn close.
4. It's okay to bitch about each other: When we started this company we naively made a "Rule" that we wouldn't bitch and moan about each other to each other. Oh, how foolish we once were! I think it is physically impossible for me to not talk about people when I'm frustrated with them. (It is one of my many tragic flaws that I'm listening to a lot of Rob Bell & Elizabeth Gilbert Podcasts to try and alleviate. Don't worry.) But, I have noted that when I'm upset with someone and I have a five minute no-judgement rant about them to another company member it's easier to shake it off and move on. when I don't do that I just have an internal rant about them in my head all day long and hold a weird fake grudge that they don't know about for the whole day. Release those feelings out in to the ether so you can grow up and get the fuck over them.
P.S. If someone starts bitching about someone to you take EVERYTHING with a big ol' grain of salt. What is said in the heat of a hate passion is rarely (if ever) actually true.
5. Never stop doing turkey voice: A couple nights ago we had a late night rehearsal. We were all exhausted, and useless, and overwhelmed and one company member started doing his scene as if his character was a turkey. Yes, a turkey. Like thanksgiving. Like "gobble gobble!" It made us all laugh so hard that we cried. It also reminded us that this is all supposed to be fun. The only reason we've all committed to this and risked so much is because we love spending time with each other, so we have to be actually enjoying it! Now, we lucked out because creating theatre is an inherently fun job, but, it comes with its own set of stresses and vulnerabilities and personal scars. If you're not enjoying it, there is literally no reason to keep doing it. I like to aim to make it feel like recess. The part of your day where all the adults leave you alone and you and your friends get to do exactly what you want. Sometimes, all you want to do is turkey voice and that's okay.
6. If all else fails, have a murder/suicide pact: Oh my god I'm totally kidding... Or am I?
So, I encourage you to get out there, find your squad and start creating! It can and should be done. If you love what you're doing you may as well share that with all of your besties!
And, in case you want to fact check and make sure I'm not just spouting bullshit at you come check out what we've been working on this whole time:
Theatre By Committee Presents:
Lion In The Streets by Judith Thompson
598 Yonge St. (Glad Day Bookshop)
Nov. 19-21 & 26-19
Check out our website for tickets and more information: www.theatrebycommittee.com
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