When I am challenged to my limits I get the mixed pleasure of rediscovering who I really am, not who I'd like to be. For instance, I have recently been rediscovering that I can, indeed, be as difficult as both detractors and friends will tell you--and will tell me, with varying degrees of tact. When the 'chips are down'--when I wake in the morning with an ache in my gut that does not go away for more than a few minutes at a time during my waking hours--I grow combative and moody. In the past, I have from time to time endangered old freindships and thwarted the development of new ones.... Now, I seem luckily to have skirted these outcomes, but I haven't made it easy, either for my self or anyone else.
This last weekend has been a desperate push by everyone in my ensemble to prepare for a public showing of our four minute solo dance-theater pieces, as well as to get as far as we can with brand-new 3-minute 'anger and tears' monologues (i.e., monologues which we can take over the top into nonestop anger and tears for 3 full minutes), and write 20 page autobiographies of our characters in the scenes from Tennessee Williams' plays which are due today (not just the bios are due; we're supposed to be ready to present scenes.) The deadline on the 3 minute monologue was announced on Friday, so several of us had to jettison other priorities, on the fly, including grading our freshmen students' paper in Intro to Theater. One priority I put off was memorizing my lines for THE TRESTLE AT POPE LICK CREEK, which is why I'm at the computer now, procrastinating. In a few minutes I'll close out my browser and grab the script.
The reason that all of this has been so stressful is that Jack has explicitly stated that the solo dance pieces are a "significant marker of our progress individually and as an ensemble," and may well be the first event that leads to one or more of the ensemble dropping from the class. It's a searing moment--a marine boot camp obstacle course moment--in which we either drop old habits of resistance or not finish the course. If this doubly stresses me out, it may because I HAVE droppped the course--at just this point--in other endeavors, at other times in my life. I do not want to return to Portland as a drop out from grad school. That may not be 'likely' to happen, but there's no reason to say it's 'unlikely,' either.
Some good news is this: that after struggling for hours with my solo dance piece in an incredibly inefficient and frustrating way (I spent SEVERAL of those hours lying on the floor or standing against a wall the rehearsal simply frozen, without any idea of how to go on), two member of my ensemble--Miranda and Kristen--took a look at what I had, and in twenty minutes time had focused my rough sketch wanderings into tightly dramatic moments, which hooked together to tell a story. So, I may humiliate myself this week--week eight--but it probably won't be in the solo number. Thanks to my ensemble.