Resistance: From the trenches

In her book, A Director Prepares: Seven Essays on Art and Theatre, the stage director and teacher Anne Bogart dedicates an entire chapter to a discussion of the resistance that one might encounter in any creative process.  Given that I’m about to enter the second day of technical rehearsals for my show that opens next Friday and that there’s a lot of resistance right now, I pulled out my Bogart text this morning, and re-read places that I had underlined or marked with an “Amen.”

When I first encountered this book several years ago, the concept of resistance in a creative process was very frustrating to me.  I would get very upset, almost paralyzed, when things didn’t go as I had planned.  As I sit in this moment in the middle of the most difficult part of any theatre creation process (tech), I still find myself frustrated at the resistance that I’m encountering, but I’m not letting it paralyze me.  In fact, I tell my students that reading Bogart’s thoughts on this subject of resistance and working to embrace the ideas has actually helped me to become a stronger director and as a result, my work has gotten better.  Rather than have the paralysis, I try to keep climbing the obstacles until I make it over the top and the next one appears.  It’s the only way to get the job done.  Thankfully, I have a team of collaborators who are there to help push me up over the wall.

Reading Bogart’s words again this morning have helped to ground me as I enter today’s rehearsal.  Here’s some of what she writes:

"Resistance demands thought, provokes curiosity and mindful alertness, and, when overcome and utilized, eventuates elation.  Ultimately, the quality of any work is reflected in the size of the obstacles encountered."

"If there are not enough obstacles in a given process, the result can lack rigor and depth."

"Art is expression.  It requires creativity, imagination, intuition, energy and thought to take the random feelings of uneasiness and dissatisfaction and compress then into useful expression.  An artist learns to concentrate rather than get rid of the daily discord and restlessness.  It is possible to turn the irritating mass of daily frustrations into fuel for beautiful expression."

Thanks, Anne.  I needed that.

Anybody else?