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Andrei in the office

lordandrei

Andrei's Universe

One man's journey from infinity to nothingness


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Andrei in the office
lordandrei

It's supposed to be about the work... isn't it?

I've been trying to find a way to post about a topic that is causing me much stress. Stress is a direct result of being caught between a rock and a hard place. Or to be more specific, being caught in a situation you feel is wrong to the core of your ability yet having no tools, ability, or materials to be able to explain the problem, let alone do anything to fix it. The problem I am currently dealing with is politics and popularity contests in places where they really shouldn't be.... to explain where I'm coming from, let me go back to college.

When I was in college I took a directing class. It was in my 4th year. I took part one my 2nd year. I was supposed to take them both my 2nd year, but a bout of mono, viral tonsillitis, getting dumped for my college roommate so she could lose the virginity she was saving for marriage, and just not really caring about academia or my father's alma mater, led to me getting awarded the gold plated deans vacation for my 4th regular semester of college.

I wasn't the most dependable student. Actually I was down right irresponsible. But I loved my theatre. Never missed a rehearsal. I even dragged myself onto stage during that fateful semester with 104º temperature and (fully unintentionally) on verbal cue {"Don't worry, something will come up"} method acted all over the stage. I believed the show was more important than the individual.

But back to directing. I finally got to directing class. Semester 1 was analytical. All theory. It culminated with the analysis of a one act play. I procrastinated... But then again, so did the whole class. All 5 of us. The following semester was the practical. Something I'd been waiting for for years. It was a dream come true. The class was a bunch of people I knew. 4 were fairly close friends. One the ex-gf, one my new roommate (Ian for those who read)... 1 was a very, very unpopular girl. I have to admit, I didn't even like her. But I was younger and stupider in that time period.

We got to the point where we were preparing for the auditions. I was heavily into pagemaker at the time. I'd been making programs for the theatre productions at the college. (This may not seem like much, but this was 1989) The discussion came up in class and it was suggested by my ex that we let students decide which play they'd audition for. This didn't sit well with me. This was a class assignment and the auditionees were being given the choice of which shows they wanted to audition for. It sounded like a popularity contest to me.. which I've never really exceeded at. I voiced my concern and it was left by the prof up to the vote of the class. Ironically the vote was 4-2.

Audition day came. Everyone that auditioned if they were a friend of the 4, checked off the 4 directors that weren't me or the other girl. The only people who did sign up to be considered for my audition were freshman and friends of mine. But they signed up for all the other plays too. After about 60% of the auditionees came thru I had enough people to fill about 15 % of my roles. Between two auditions I popped. I've used this term in the past and some people get it and some don't. This is basically the slow burn of the fuse finally hit the bomb. And I blew up about it. I basically commented (well, yelled) that most likely I was going to fail the class because it was obvious I wasn't popular enough or well liked enough to deserve anyone with any experience. They of course told me it was all in my head and I was just over reacting. People have always enjoyed doing that to me. Especially in college.

The problem was, whenever I got upset and people patted me on the head... Inevitably I found out I was right. I later found out that someone had confided to one of the other directors that if she had to audition for all the shows, she wouldn't audition. And she was going to carry some of her friends with her on this.

It's all about the show. No... It's not.

I got my full cast. Sort of. My central actor gave a stunning performance for auditions because he was so nervous he didn't try to act. He was himself. Our first rehearsal came off and it was Joe Thespian, "ACTING!" I asked him what he was doing... He said I'm acting now. I asked him if he could do what he did at the auditions... he said, no. That was just nerves. So I replaced him. I had to write out a smaller character.

One of my actors was routinely not feeling up to and had to keep missing rehearsals. (Another lead)... He basically decided when we told him we were expanding the schedule that he wouldn't be able to attend the 2nd performance... So I had to step in for him (which unto itself became one of the best learning experiences in the field I'd ever had)

I had 2 friends who basically kept me going thru that entire show. In the end. B-. The big special effect failed 2 nights before we opened and I had to kluge the ending. (It took me 10 years to find the right ending on paper) But the show also had some of the finest moments I've lived. Gave me new insights into directing and a passion that is deep within me.

I just had to temper my passion with the reality of politics. A messy horrible game that I don't like and more so don't play very well. Because to me.. it's all about the show. It's all about the work you are doing. Not the hand shaking, not the partying afterwards.

I think I shied away from theatre after that because I kept getting burnt by the politics of theatre by people who were playing a power game and the show was merely a vehicle to help them achieve their ends. Naive, little me had stars in my eyes that people actually out there wanted to do theatre, film, or tv for the integrity of the art.

There are times I think I really shouldn't get passionate about the things I do. I found the SCA and shortly there after I learned about how I had to find someone to properly train me to do service. That way I'd have someone who could say, "Look, see the service he does!" This was an anathema to me, because for some reason service to me was doing the job without a lust for result. Captain Altruism I guess. Ah, yes.. APhiO. Well, there was always Roberts Rules of Order to choke the life out of that.

And now I am a Mac programmer. That means that you have chose to support the underdog. That means that you're the annoyance that makes people have to think about making their code play fair. (Don't get me started on Win based XML servers that say UTF-8 in the header and spew forth WindowsRoman characters) Standards are merely annoyances that Microsoft will eventually adopt, enhance, keep secret, and sell to their customers. But we live in a world where "Sold in America" is really all that matters any more because our corporations can easily outsource the craftsmanship in this country to a 13 year old in Laos. So, if you make something, fight for the lowest salary you can, because that's all that matters to BB nowadays.

How do I hold together? I mean this really sounds kind of down and depressing when you have this kind of an outlook. I guess, I should consider myself lucky that I have found a faith. A religion. A religion that has a fraternal order. Meaning we are as brothers. We watch each others back.. Sometime we go out of our way to make sure no one is talking trash about us. It's karmic. You try to get beyond the lust of result. You try to do away with the ego. It is simply the work.. the great work. And if you get there, no one will stop you or try to get in your way. There's even a line, "Do that (your true will) and no other shall say nay"

At least here a naive person like me can believe no one would turn this into a political power battle. People who've worked with me would laugh if someone made up stories about my lack of responsibility. We're open... people would come up and talk to me if they had questions about what I do or tell me if people were uneasy about approaching me so I could come to them. We'd all support each other in what we do. Trying to make sure we don't get in each others way and invalidate the individual work each is doing.

It's something I've become very passionate about. I figure... that's safe... isn't it?

Yes, this is part of the post.


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Hmmm. In my opinion, understanding and working the sociosphere, the various interpersonal relationships in any working group, is a big part of the work. Not an obstacle to it. But part of it. And a part worth understanding and putting energy into.

Everything is as it's supposed to be.

The question is, do you respond in a way that is true to who you want to be, or do you allow the nonesense of others to distract you from your True Path?

Another thought on the subject of politics...

I know that 'playing politics' is often seen as counterproductive and untrue to your self, but I want to play devil's advocate for a moment. What would happen if we could be political and still be true to ourselves? One of our last books (all IDs at PSU work through books together as part of our professional development) was called Getting Things Done When You Are Not in Charge. It made the interesting point that anyone who refuses to play politics at all is basically ineffective at forwarding anything they'd like to do. It was an interesting wake-up for me, because I always hated the thought of being one of those smarmy, insincere, dishonest people who played politics the way I thought of the term.

In thinking over the author's comment, however, I realized that he was trying to say that we should decide what is important to us--in our lives, our jobs, and our frienships--and also have the level of self-understanding that lets us do ethical things, when we can, for other people so that we are able to forge relationships. Forging relationships, in his view, was a political strategy. Who are you going to go to when you need to get something done? People with whom you have connections.

And he wasn't advocating a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" philosophy either, surprisingly. He was suggesting that our network of relationships is what sustains us, and that we would be well rewarded in our own life's richness to explore others as the people they are, too. That might mean understanding the whole person behind your manager, or your coworkers, and being enthusiastic about their lives.

At any rate, it was a pretty interesting concept. A reasonably priced book, and one with a few good ideas (if a tad pop-psychology-ish).

Hope your politics is going well, and that your stress reduces itself. I'm undergoing my own attitude adjustment, but it's nice to know that others have stress, too. Ciao!

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