I'm back from the long break from this blog that's been necessary to keep up with the hectic busyness of 4th year university life. I'm starting to finally have more time on my hands so it's very important that I tell you that the long break between the previous post and this post was not a signal of the end of RMR's Writing Space but a break that was necessary to keep up with the busyness of my academics. Now that I can fit in time for blogging it's important that I tell you: I'm back...for good this time! In other words expect more from me in the next couple of weeks.
In today's post I'm going to talk about two things: directing with no voice and conducting other activities that require metaphorical performances, you guessed it: with no voice. But what do I mean by "with no voice"? This post was inspired by the fact I've battled with laryngitis throughout the week in a time when I needed to carry out a lot of activities that required speaking. That's basically what I mean but I give you, the reader permission to interpret "with no voice" as whatever you want. I'm currently in a late stage of the rehearsal process only two days away from the performance of a scene study I've been developing at my campus theatre for the past two and a half months. When I got laryngitis just two days prior to tech rehearsal I didn't know what the heck to do. All the contemporary classes, workshops, and books on directing have one thing in common: that key lesson where they emphasize one of the key jobs of the director is "performing" the role of a calm, articulate leader that, when they walk in a rehearsal hall it's clear to everyone that they're the one in control.
A common misconception within our society is that the leaders are the ones that can talk the loudest with dominating, pushy personalities that force everyone else to be silent, as if it's some sort of competition or something. I don't like swearing on my blog because it doesn't seem professional but it's necessary to prove a point, so I'll say it: that misconception is whole lot of bullshit. The truth is many of the leaders, the truly creative and effective leaders that I respect and admire hardly fit that stereotype. They are the ones that can find a way to keep calm and help others regardless of the situation and their own personal feelings. They are the listeners, the ones who can respond and have a strong sense of what's going on around them and react effectively to that. Through Susan Cain's book "Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking" I've come to appreciate those qualities of the introverted leader, an approach to leadership and conversing with others that I've found within myself and began to realize that many of the people I have the highest respect for have too without me even realizing. To summarize Susan Cain's book in very few words: quiet and silence is an extremely powerful thing.
Now let's apply that to a condition that weakens the voice temporarily and makes it shaky, often no louder then a whisper and sometimes inaudible. Remember what I said about silence being an extremely powerful thing. Try going from "performing" the role of a leader to having a problem with your voice that makes that performance not nearly as possible. Having a directorial role in a tech rehearsal after losing my voice was the most effective test on what the results of my actions,ideas, and instructions were, without my intervention something that, come performance time the audience will see anyways. It was very fly on the wall like since my voice being weakened forced me to resist the temptation to intervene and take actors by the hand. I think it was the strongest my observations of my actors has ever been since the power of my voice was temporarily weakened. Being in that director's role requires at least some speaking for everyone to know what you want and what you thought about people's choices so it meant that, whenever I spoke in that forced, shaky whisper everyone stopped everything they were doing and everything they were saying and made that extra effort to listen without me having to do much at all. When you are in that circumstance where you really can't talk providing instructions that use the resources at your disposal to get others to pass on your instructions can make you just as powerful as actually having your voice and doing those things yourself. This true story proves that silence and quiet, even in extreme cases are extremely powerful. If you tell people what's wrong with you, they will, if they're decent human beings see a mirroring circumstance in either themselves or someone they know and help. That isn't the case for all people but there's enough people in this world that the chances of someone behaving that way is actually high enough that at least someone will step in, be accommodating, and make things work. Regardless of whether it's laryngitis or something more serious and long term the people in a similar situation who thrive the most are the ones that carry on with their lives without self-pity and conduct their everyday lives without letting that stop them from doing anything.