Shackles – A Push for Perfection

Upon the sudden realization that one has only a single week left to perfect their production, it is not uncommon for them to wish they were heavily skilled in the art of sorcery. However, as medicine, mathematics, and that old thorn in the side physics constantly reminds us, sorcery is usually considered useless when paired against its more physically plausible components; laser beam focus, perpetually burning energy, and good old fashion, fist-clenching stress.

Now, I’m not saying all the latter options are things we’re exploring (and I’m not saying we’re all wizards either…) but it would be unwise to think we’re not well aware of how little time we have left. Which raises an interesting question, we’re off book, blocked, polishing our characters, so why, Dearest-Paprika-Blog-Followers, is this still so gosh-darn stressful?

Well, you see, it’s because there are certain sacrifices one must make when one is an all-out perfectionist. Unlike the alternative, a person who only-sort-of cares, perfectionists have a very particular way of doing things. Such a comparison can be made in the following way:

SEMI-INTERESTED, PRE-OCCUPIED PERSON:

1. Get good idea.

2. Wait 19 days.

3. Assemble appropriate resources, use the “Just Enough Time” you have left, be extremely flexible on the integrity of your original vision based on the abilities of the people you’re working with, fix major problems, but leave the minor ones – because, who the heck are you kidding? – and ultimately create a piece of work that wins no awards but entertains many, offends few, and comes across as whole-heartedly acceptable.

Fantastic.

But then, all of that goes away when one values perfection over all other things. Good, simple ideas turn to epic, life affirming sagas lost in a blur of delusions of grandeur and success. And easy, quick runs of work are stopped constantly to fix insignificant bugs which, let’s face it, will always be there.

The final product can then take one of two turns: One that appears outwardly desirable, with a production that’s amazing, earns mountains of respect for all involved, and receives a standing ovation lasting a minimum of 8 minutes.
OR: A production full of problems. The problem that there was not enough time in your clocks to do what you wanted, the problem that all your actors wish you were dead, and the problem that so many problems were trying to be solved, that non-problemed portions were forgotten, creating new problems and leaving many still unsolved, until the entire production collapses into a twitching, problematic mass.

Alright, do not misinterpret me here. We’re not having that problem. As I said before, our production’s coming along nicely. I say this only because, as almost all of us are at some point, we’re a time when we’re likely to be almost as good as we’re going to get. And such a time is something every single one us young, ambitious theatre people have to discover. If I had one word of advice to my peers (as I too have worked with actors who prayed for my funeral and written monologues intended to be short but have inexplicably taken up four pages) it would be to have faith in the work we’ve created, and with the festival so close and all of us of course being so gosh-darn stressed, now’s the time to step back and simply enjoy the show.

…I’m not sure if any of this is valid, because this post’s longer-than-usual-length is an example of everything I said not to do…

But anyways, until next time,

Shackles Team

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