Over the last couple of months Iâ€™ve been working with a lot of children and teens. I mean, thatâ€™s what Iâ€™ve done my whole career but lately Iâ€™ve been branching out into teaching theatre and playwriting. I love it. And itâ€™s hard to be patient sometimes.
When itâ€™s the third class in a row that the teens havenâ€™t brought any new pages on their scripts. When the kids in my acting class wonâ€™t stop asking questions in the middle of me trying to explain the very thing that they are asking about. When they refuse to speak or participate or even stand still!
I find myself feeling stressed and frustrated, not because of the behavior but because if they donâ€™t participate I canâ€™t actually teach them anything. If you donâ€™t bring pages you wonâ€™t get better. If you donâ€™t participate you canâ€™t improve.
And then I realize what a hypocrite Iâ€™m being. I donâ€™t write pages until the very last minute most of the time. And I rarely write as much as I should. I also get scared and hold myself back from doing things. And my comfort with failure (and my desire to learn and grow) didnâ€™t really kick in until a couple of years ago. Before that it was all about being safe.
So I canâ€™t be too hard on the children and youth who are struggling. But I can think about the ways that I was helped over my own fears. Creating a safe environment in which to fail. Encouraging them (and yes, sometimes pushing them) to write more and submit pages. Calling out their good work and encouraging them to do more of it.
I can also have patience with developing brains and bodies that are full of questions and wiggles and the inability to be quiet or sit still.
Weâ€™re all figuring it out. Weâ€™re all in this together. The life of an artist is one of journeying, never arrival. And that can be seriously frustrating sometimes. But it can also be beautiful.
So weâ€™ll walk this journey together.