So, I just finished working on a theatrical production currently running at our local Fringe Festival. Yay! This show has been such a journey and such a learning experience for me as it was the first time I have taken on the role of stage director.
And that’s what I want to talk about today.
Sometimes we can have the tendency to put ourselves in a box. When people ask us what we do we say, “I’m a writer” or “I’m an actor” or “I’m a country singer”. There may be a few items on that list if you consider yourself a multi-disciplinary person but many of us are very quick to declare what we do and what we don’t do and where our skills actually lie. And it certainly simplifies things to define ourselves for others in that way.
But a part of being creative, what can fuel us, is trying on new roles, expanding our horizons, flexing muscles we’ve never used before.
Here’s the thing. You don’t have to be great at it. It doesn’t have to signal a career change. In reading Creativity, Inc. – a book about the rise of Pixar Animation, which I have raved about in a previous post – we learn that Pixar encourages every employee, no matter what their role, to take a class in using their proprietary animation software. They don’t do this because they want everyone to become great animators. The rationale is that, by being exposed to animation and drawing, employees will be encouraged to use their brains in ways they may not have been used to, helping them to approach their jobs and the world around them differently.
Whether it’s exploring a new area of your field or trying something completely different, you will undoubtedly be inspired and hopefully carry that knowledge into your area of expertise.
When I went to study music at university, the focus was on contemporary classical music, a genre I was somewhat unfamiliar with. As a composer, the idea of writing a piece that was not in any key or that used symbols and pictures instead of musical notes was a completely foreign concept to me. But what my education taught me more than anything was to conceive of sound in a different way, that it was not only the familiar structures and formations that could be considered beautiful. It was truly eye-opening for me and I had a blast in the process!
Yes, I have somewhat gone back to writing in more popular styles but the works are so much more dynamic because of my studies and what I’ve been exposed to. I have used my education to add some unexpected twists to what I already do.
So, even if you are a painter who has professed to have two left feet, why not try a dance class on for size? You’ll have fun, get some exercise, and connect more with your body and see what it’s capable of. If you are a dancer who swears they can’t draw stick figures, take an art class. You might find you can relate the stroke of a brush across the canvas to your feet gliding across the stage. If you are a die hard country singer, why not experiment with some classical or jazz or hip hop, even if it’s just on your own at home? You might even come up with an entirely new genre of music. You never know!
Who’s to say if I will ever get the opportunity to direct again or if I will ever chose to take on that role again? But I know that I have grown and learned so much from the experience – about leadership, about teamwork, about storytelling – and have had the opportunity to connect with some lovely, talented people whom I likely would not have met otherwise had I not taken the chance to try something new!
Speaking of new – in STM news, I have just released a new lyric video for Thanks from Ladybug Crossings. It’s a song all about showing gratitude. Enjoy!