Friday, June 6, 2014

inevitably long winded . . . (part one)

an acquaintance of mine recently asked me to contemplate why i no longer design lighting, production manage, stage manage, stagehand or participate in any way with the production of staged theatrical artistic events . . .

this query caught me off gaurd & while i have been dwelling on the question (in the quiet far too few moments when my mind is my own) i have yet to answer her . . .
this is my first attempt at putting the thoughts into words (words being the door through which i entered "the arts" in the first place thirty three years ago) . . . 

my first answer is the easiest one : money 

i do not mean to imply that there is no money in "the arts"

i do mean to infer a deep seated insistence that "knowing what one is worth" & "placing a monetary value" on that "worth" is something (in my experience) in "the arts" that is frowned upon

. . . while frowing the phrases, "i am not being paid," or, "i do this for the love of the art," or, "the actors / dancers are not being paid," or, "do Not see it as a lack of funds view it instead as a challenge" have been issued to me by several producers, directors, choreographers, executive directors, artistic directors & friends when i began my journey away from "the arts"

this "answer" (as all answers inevitably do) leads to a longer list of topics & questions than i am willing to get into here (or at all for that matter) . . . 

i will say this again - money - is the easy answer 

my next thought is a tad more personal though still not "the answer" . . . i lost my "heart"

there is (based upon my experience) a requirement for a certain amount of "love," a certain "willingness to go above & beyond," to "call in favors," to "get it for free," to "work something out," to "do your magic" that i lost

losing whatever this "was" hindered my ability to "see" & as a lighting designer "seeing" is mandatory

i did not want to "black out" between scenes - i lost all interest in "building a cue that mimicks a sunset on the cyclorama," the thought of focusing one more down pool for the "dramatic effect" (read "ailey-esque") made me want to puke . . . 

when this "loss" began i found myself drinking, quite often (more than i should) & still recovering from the night before showing up hungover, smelling like the worn soles of a barback & actually sitting behind "the tech table" attempting to write the "ugliest cue imaginable" . . . 

i spiralled out of control, lost my job, my wife, my family, my self-respect, my drive, my ingenuity, my creativity, my self-worth, my ability to see color in the deepest shade of grey, my ability to see texture in the flattest landscape - in short, i lost me

i burned every bridge i could see & some i did not even know were there - i set fire to all around me & justified my arson by wallowing in self-pity for the next five years

then an actual fire consumed everything i owned
& covered seventy percent of my body in second & third degree burns 

this event was the first event that shook me - not losing the aforementioned things - this one, that almost claimed me

to be clear - this "answer" is about "losing" whatever it was that was "me" that made me able to work thirty hours straight for little (if any) compensation that made me demand a moving light package in the nineties for an unknown dance company; to push for newer technologies instead of settling for the par-can backlights; that wanted three follow spots for a two person play . . . 

whatever it was (i realised laying in the hospital) was gone & i needed to let it go

so i did or so i told (& still do tell) myself

i ventured into it a few times - for friends - each time being called out for my lack of whatever it was they were used to seeing

i became formulaic predictable - bright washy & blue . . . 

i lost some good friends during this transition
. . . folk i still miss to this day

so, why have i continued to steer myself away from a life of theatrical production ??
what was lost ??  

i honestly do not know

i am just beginning to "see" this as it is

there will be more
but for now

i am stopping

6 june 2014
chelsea, nyc