Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Reflections on us all

It's been a long summer.

Much fun as I've had, all the memories we've made, it has taken a lot out of me. Perhaps not as much as it did last summer (where it nearly destroyed the company as much as it nearly destroyed yours truly). I've had many happy times, many sad times, and now that the summer is almost over I think it's a good time to take a bit of stock about where I am, and what I've learned, or how I've grown, over the past 15 weeks.

For starters, this is the first summer where I wasn't truly alone in my quest to keep the company afloat. Yes, Grinder has always been about the people, but when it comes to the books I've usually kept that out of my conversations with directors and actors, because I would much rather they focus on doing their jobs, rather that worrying about whether or not there's enough in the cash box to keep us going for another week. But this summer, with the addition of the world's greatest girlfriend, I finally had someone with whom I could openly, objectively discuss the numbers with. That, combined with improved tracking and reporting methods, helped me make some decisions that most certainly kept the roving death squads of the royalties police off my back more than once.

I also learned this summer that quality is a subjective term - very subjective. There were moments this summer where I just wanted to hand people their money back and beg them to forgive us for putting such a terrible effort in front of them, and there were others who felt the same. But by the same token, there were intelligent, thoughtful, discerning people who thought the exact same moments were some of the finest theatre they had ever seen, and who came back to see the same show over and over again only to shower even more praise on the bewildered cast and crew. There were times when I agreed with my directors about their assessments of their shows, there were times I thought their shows were better or worset than they did. I was reminded of something I figured out years ago but had recently let slip my mind - quality is not only a subjective term, it is also a personal one. So from now on, I think I'll worry more about making a show acceptable on my terms, because everyone else out there is doing the same thing. It's not like we are all working from the same checklist.

I learned this summer that people can do great things, like carry a show all alone, learn a part in just 3 days, or move an audience to laughter and tears in the space of a few minutes.

I learned how young people can step up and do things beyond their years, and how older people can find commonality with the young in performance, and form the most unusual of bonds.

I learned that people aren't always perfect, even when you desperately need them to be. I've learned how it feels to be let down by the people you trust, and how easily the delicate thread of friendship can be broken. I've learned to hedge my bets, be wary of counting shows before they've closed, and to leave nothing, however small, to chance or expectation.

Yes, it's been a long summer. And yes, there have been ups and downs which, by the way the fall is shaping up, show no signs of easing up. But despite it all, on balance, I consider myself and this company infinitely better for having come through this summer. For everyone who let me down there are 5 people who made me proud. For every disaster there were 5 successes. There was even a miracle or two thrown in there.

Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, everyone who helped to make this summer a reality. Your contribution, no matter how small, is valued, and you can be proud of what we are able to accomplish.

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