Friday, June 15, 2007

The Olive Branch

I am left handed.

This, I believe, is the reason I have always been subjected to collaborative art forms. The handy, the crafty, their skills where harbored and encouraged by abundant equipment tailored to their use and the pointy scissors. If there where more than two 'lefties' in the class we had to wait in line for the privilege of using the left-handed blunt 'safety scissors.' Never mind the tacit implication that I was a dangerous 'other' that might hurt myself or others while cutting out my construction paper turkey, I was normalized to expression that took other people to pull off.

It might be a stretch to use scissors as an explanation as to why I don't even attempt to write straight prose, but I still say it is part of an ingrained mind set.

So even in my earliest writing desire, comic books, I needed someone else to see anything I created to completion. Even in music I chose to play a horn, which unless I want to be the colorful backdrop to someone's romantic city evening, I need the rest of the band to do anything. I never had that roll-up-your-sleeves one man band ability of the rockers, I need a group of other people with me to play.

Theater and film have been even worse. The man power to film even the simplest of things would make a pretty decent sized band, and theater is no better. In studying both I've always been jealous of the techies who have studied with me. They learned the lighting, they wired the sound, they built the set. They gathered the cameras and the steady cams and built the equipment they couldn't get otherwise and seemed to have an unlimited ability to churn out work after soulless work.

And that's the thing. So often it simply wasn't that inspiring to watch. I would feel bad criticizing it, after all, they managed to get their stuff up while my stuff remains a simply talked about 'masterpiece,' but still, some of that stuff is really really bad.

And I held, in my head, that if the artists could just get their act together we could turn out something really cool.

Enter my current gig. For professionalisms' sake I won't say what show I'm working on, but it's a theater production where I am in the tech role that I actually do know how to do thanks to the demands of small theaters. This particular show is being put on by artists, the director is a playwright (not the playwright for this), the designers are also writers or other aspects of theater artists that are filling the roles. I have come in at the end to operate the show and now I see the error of my ways.

The truth of the matter is that techs are able to do so much work because, as Sous Rature put it, the techs are the ones who put on the show. They can do it without us, but it is much harder for us to do it without them. And it shows.

One without the other is a show that either looks good but isn't, or a show that could be good but looks horrible.

There needs to be a truce. I can see how the techs get frustrated, they want to get to it. They know what has to be done, they have the toys or creative solution and they want to get to building it so they can get to the next problem to solve. Waiting for a 'creative type' to get his or her act together and put something together to make can be numbing.

Alternatively, for the creative types dealing with the techs can be difficult. It's 'our baby' and they need to be able to just look in our heads and translate that thing that we don't even have the vocabulary to describe. We end up thinking, "Why can't they do what I want them to?"

The reality is that what they do is creative, and we need to allow them to add their creativity to what we do. And, this si important, recognize a limitations when they tell us there is one. These guys love coming up with solutions, if they can't do something we have to recognize that it's breaking their hearts a little.

And the techs have to realize that we're good at what we do, and what we do, while it might seem simple, sometimes takes time and if given time will be a better project to work on.

So, as a non-tech creative type, I'll make this pledge. I promise that I will do my best to get my projects together in a timely manner. This is for me as much as anything. I will recognize that tech is a creative process and they know what they are doing and are necessary to bring my stuff to life. I will no longer be jealous of their ability to put on shows at will.

After all, it's what they do.

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