Let me preface this by saying that I wrote this yesterday at noon, before I read Mission Paradox today... However, you can't fight the Moonlight, and you can't stop great minds thinking alike...
I was showing the old apartment the other night (yes, we still need to rent it). Jessica was rehearsing Heads, and we could hear them through the door, of course. So I started talking about Halcyon; explaining our mission, the kind of work we do, the Alcyone Festival Let me preface this by saying that I wrote this yesterday at noon, before I read Mission Paradox today... However, you can't fight the Moonlight, and you can't stop great minds thinking alike...
I was showing the old apartment the other night (yes, we still need to rent it). Jessica was rehearsing Heads, and we could hear them through the door, of course. So I started talking about Halcyon; explaining our mission, the kind of work we do, the Alcyone Festival ...and I started to realize how excited I was to talk about it. I LOVE Halcyon Theatre. I LOVE our mission (even though I can't always recite it verbatim). I'm so proud of the Alcyone Festival; of the talent, of the amazing playwrights being represented. I love asking people for money and other types of support so we can keep going. I love asking people to be on our Board. . .
When I was done flapping my gums, the girls seemed really excited to come see the festival, and to find out more about what we do. They are intelligent and outgoing young women and they have never been to theatre.
I've been thinking about that conversation a lot in the past 24 hours.
With the last theatre company I founded in Chicago, after the first year and a half I was never really jazzed to talk about it. And I was the Artistic Director! I felt like it was conceited or braggy to talk about our accomplishments and our desires: What made us any better than anybody else?
What made us any better than anybody else?
Now I get it. I don't think anything did. We didn't have a mission that I felt connected too; it didn't say anything different than any of the other very talented companies in the city. It was about the artists, not the audience.
Granted, the other co-founder was always trying to get us to re-examine the mission (actually, just about every month she wanted us to re-examine the mission...) but I was so resistant... looking back, I think it's because it didn't matter what the words on paper were, they were just words on paper. When we talked at our retreats about what set us apart from other companies, faces went blank.
I have really been enjoying Adam's posts as well, and while writing this blog I realized that in a way I guess I am responding to his Blog about missions, although I'm not sure it started out that way...
I've had two opportunities recently to listen to really smart and passionate people talk about the theatre companies they work for: Brooke Walters, Director of Individual Giving at Steppenwolf, and Adam Thurman, Director of Marketing and Communications at Court Theatre (and of course the author of Mission Paradox). The thing that continuously struck me was how often they mentioned mission. And it wasn't “Steppenwolf's" Mission or “Court's" Mission. Every time it was "OUR" Mission. Every time.
Now I get it. You have got to LOVE the SHIT out of your mission. Because it ISN'T just words on paper. It can't be. Your mission is more than just who you are. It is your raison d'etre; your duende, your passion and your fire. Can you feel it? My voice is raising in pitch and tenacity, my hands are starting to move while I talk, my shoulders move, my hips move... It's getting passionate in here...... it should be!
I don't care if you do “Irish Guys in a Bar” theatre, historical dramas, cutting edge new works or 101 Dalmations the Musical. If you don't LOVE your work and your mission, who will? And isn't that what we want- to help people love theatre as much as we do and to use it to make things just a little bit better than how we found them?
Especially in a place where there is such a saturation of talent... maybe we should all think of this in a good and constructive way: What gives me the right to add my voice? Why do I deserve to speak? If I could only say one thing, what would it be and WHY DOES IT MATTER TO YOU?