Sunday, May 4, 2008

Independent Shakespeare Company and Finding Your Own Path

This afternoon in Los Angeles I saw a production of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” by the Independent Shakespeare Company (ISC). It was the third of three performances this weekend as a sort of “try out” for the ISC’s upcoming summer schedule of free Shakespeare in the Park.

The ISC’s website states: ISC was founded in 1998 by a group of actors who shared a passion for classical works. Intent on rendering vivid productions of Shakespeare’s plays, our focus was stripping back the conventions of contemporary theater and placing attention onto the spoken word. Shakespeare, we reasoned, produced his plays without lighting, without recorded sound, and without elaborate scenery and costumes. Surely we could as well.

You’ll find my name listed under the board of advisors. This connection to the ISC happened because I sent a fan email after seeing the ISC’s performance of “Henry V.” That amazing performance was done with eight actors playing tons of parts on a bare stage with a trunk and some tidbits of “costumes.”

In terms of finding your own path, I first want to share this thought: If you like a performance or a painting or concert, let the performer or artist or musician know. The giving of a simple compliment may end up offering you an association with something in which you believe.

The second thought I’d like to share concerns something that I saw on the stage today: The young woman playing the role of Viola was terrific. Later, in the “talk back,” the audience learned that she had actually rehearsed for the part of Maria, and only two weeks ago she had taken on the more demanding role of Viola when the woman playing Viola had left the production.

This willingness to take on a new role under a tight timeline is an example of a growth mindset. The young woman could have played it safe, staying within the comfort zone of the part she already knew. Instead, she’s been undertaking intensive rehearsals in order to play the larger role.

When someone offers you the opportunity to expand your role whether it be in a theater production or an internship or a job position have a growth mindset and take the opportunity. Then do whatever it takes to step up to the plate and do well in your new role.

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