THE BURNING QUESTION SERIES: What’s Your Relationship to Excitement?

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I love Danielle LaPorte and her writing, she is a goddess of inspiration. That was why I decided to do her Burning Questions series on my blog, because she asks the right questions. However, since my leave of absence, I’ve fallen behind a bit, so I have quite a few questions to catch up on. Thus, this blog will be a little busier while I do that. Enjoy!

THE BURNING QUESTION SERIES FROM DANIELLE LAPORTE

Question: What’s your relationship to excitement?

Excitement is my internal compass. It is the thing that guides me in almost all of my decisions. If I don’t feel excitement over a project or an idea, I know there’s no point in pursuing it.

When I look for a new script, I need to feel excited, not just at the end, but throughout. If I’m still excited about it the next day, or the next week, I know it’s a home run. I’ve been excited about My Name Is Rachel Corrie for four years, so I know that’s a great project for me.

Excitement and I have a summer love type relationship. It’s so easy and simple when it’s just what it is, but the minute I try to make it into something more, excitement runs away. There are different levels and amounts of excitement, and it’s important for me to see it for exactly what it is. It’s almost like a garden squirrel. If I pretend I don’t see it, it may come closer, it may get excited, but move towards it, force it in any way, and it runs away.

Unfortunately, and I’ve spoken to a few in the business about this, there’s a certain amount of excitement that always need to be present, but any more than that and suddenly it’s rude. You can’t show your friends who are actors and writers and directors just how happy you are that you booked that commercial, or that show, or that tour. You don’t want to upset them, or make them jealous, or seem like an amateur. So as an artist, you’re forced to edit your emotions in public, both when you experience excitement and disappointment. This seems unhealthy to me. I always try to provide a safe space for my friends, to let them know that I don’t judge them for being happy or sad. I like seeing excitement, of a real, genuine level. I like bringing it out in people, I like seeing it in the people I work with.

I’ve found in some of my projects that the ‘talent’ are the least excited people that I work with. They’re plenty excited when I talk about hiring them, and for the first rehearsal or two. But then this cloak of ‘realism’ comes over them. Artists who’ve been told too many times to live in the real world. I love my technicians. I love the way my lighting designer describes his plans. The way the sound designer comes to me with a certain cue build. The way the costume designer beams when showing me what she’s put on. And then the actors come out, a little sad and a little down, and ask me for the thousandth time how we’re going to get bums in seats… I think they could do with a little more excitement.

Here’s the thing though, if you want happier actors, you have to give them the room to be sad as well. But perhaps if they, if we, had a chance to get it out, we’d feel better and not carry it around like a rock in our stomachs. Perhaps if we could unleash some of this fear, and dread, and anger, there would be a little more room for excitement, and we’d all be happier about it.

Excitement, as much as I love it, and use it as my internal compass, is a double edged sword. Because disappointment is always lurking, especially in this industry.

How do you balance excitement and disappointment in your art?

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