CMU School of Drama

Monday, September 19, 2016

Fitting In

Dimmer Beach: Let’s start this week with a definition and go from there. I think by the title of the post you can guess where this is going, but play along anyway.

7 comments:

Marisa RInchiuso said...

I really enjoyed this post because I thought it was candid and poses good support for an already existing idea. Much like a long running tour, we School of Drama freshman have just signed up for a 4 year, glued-to-one-another experience. Much of the process of college auditions/interviews is to determine our fitting in within that school's world. Will you fit in: what does that mean? In many places the criteria probably includes the pace of work, the shared thought processes of those who teach and attend, and whether your goals correlate with the goals of the school. So hopefully by the first day of school we are in the right "tour" for us. It feels a lot like signing up for a random group survivalness trip; you don't know who will have what skills, what their backgrounds are, why they made this choice, but you do know that we are all there for a common purpose- to get through it together. In these first few weeks, it has been very interesting to learn about the various paths that all led us here. We all seemed so different at first, but as time passes our passions matriculate into commonalities. We have all signed up for our rock tour and we get to now uncover the process of fitting in.

Julian Goldman said...

As someone who wants to eventually go on tour, this is very helpful. Though I suppose I realized this to some degree, I never really thought to try to make sure I find a tour of people I like working with, though now that I’ve read this, I realize that meshing well with the people I’m touring with is super important. I’ve put thought into the types of shows I’d like to work on, but not the sort of people/ company culture I’d like to work with/ in. After reading this, I now realize I have to think about that, but I do wonder how I can try to find a touring group that has the sort of energy I’d want. I suppose I could figure it out some from the interview, but I’m not sure if I’d want to ask too much about the company culture in an interview. I also could potentially know someone who works on that tour, or recently worked on that tour, but it is also possible I’d be applying to somewhere where I don’t really know anyone who has recently worked with that tour. I’d love to see a follow up article on how to figure out if a tour or shop is the right fit before you start working there.

Helena Hewitt said...

Working with the right group of people is incredibly important, at the theatre I worked at this summer the core group of people I worked with this summer became like a small “family.” We had a lot of late nights working with not a lot of resources, but as long as the four of us were doing it together we could conquer the world. It seems to me that when you’re touring, this sense of belonging is even more important because those late nights become months and months you are spending with a very small group of people. The unfortunate thing, as Julian pointed out, is that finding out what the dynamic of a certain group is really like can be difficult without ever being a part of it, and furthermore you cannot account for how it might change when you become a part of the group. Theatre is such an inherently collaborative art form that underestimating the importance of the people you are working with on any job could a fatal mistake.

Annie Scheuermann said...

I think that the main point of the article the author makes, of finding the right group where you fit, is very important. However, I don't believe a lot of people have it that easy. While in a perfect world we could be use, and find a group of similar minded people to work with, it doesn't always happen. Many times it turns into whatever job you can get, then changing yourself to fit in with the group. The ability to mold to society around you, is something the author touches upon, and I think many of us do it constantly, but looking at it from a larger view, is sad that has to happen. Why should anyone change their beliefs and ideals just to fit it? I think its not always about fitting in, so much as accepting those people who are not as similar minded and they in turn accept you for the way you are, and their is enough respect that everyone can be themselves and not have to worry about fitting in. Then again, thats a perfect world scenario too.

Alex Fasciolo said...

I think that this article has a lot of good advice for how we as students should start thinking as preparation for positioning ourselves in the professional world. CMU Drama has a really diverse group of people in its community, and though that can lead to some incredible learning experiences and exchanges of ideas, it also can lead to some tension regarding differences in values. I personally feel like existing in a world where there are people with strong opinions that differ from my own has helped me understand multiple perspectives, but that isn’t exactly the type of environment that everyone wants to exist in for their entire professional careers. Understanding that we have the ability to position ourselves with an organization that is compatible with who we are as people allows us to bring our best to our profession. Sometimes, in an environment where we have already made a (quasi) 4 year commitment without really getting a sense of what the culture is like, paired with a seemingly never ending to-do list of tasks we had never knew existed until we had to complete them in too little time, it’s easy to forget that we can strategize who we send our resumes to.

Ben McCormack said...

What is extremely intriguing to me toward the end of this article is the proposed dichotomy between being around people that are happy and smiley or being around people that are downers and not pleasant to be around. When it comes to the technical direction side of things I believe that an overwhelming amount of individuals fall into one of those categories with a very small and obscure group falling into the other- happy and smiley category. For me I know that I thrive in the joyful and pleasant environments, though it is very difficult to find those jobs within the TD realm. Though this shouldn't come as any surprise, I have a hypothesis for why this dichotomy exists. I think it has everything to do with quality of life. In a very generalist way, with my albeit limited experience, the regional theatre classic white man TD is very gruff, unhappy, unpleasant and difficult to be around. Whereas TDs that work in the theme park realm and/or the more religious realm are significantly more pleasant, enjoyable and delightful to be around. The major differences that I see between those two categories are financial compensation and time spent at work. This gets to a very cut and dry result that well-paid TDs with a 40hr/week workload are much happier and more smiley than a TD who is underpaid and overworked. I think some people choose to fit into the underpaid and overworked category while others thrive and delight in the well paid and adequately worked environment. They are finding their fit and living within it.

Sasha Schwartz said...

I think this article is very much applicable to theater, and social situations in general. While the term “fitting in” generally holds a bad connotation, I think it’s a very important skill to have, particularly in an industry with such a strong emphasis on connections. I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about the harmful mindset of only being able to work or be friends with people who agree with you on everything. While I definitely consider myself a strong proponent of certain political stances, and am not someone who generally stays quiet when something someone says is offensive, I think it’s also important to know when to stay quiet and learn to cooperate with someone who might hold opinions very different to yours. I also think that no matter how talented someone is, if they aren’t able to work amicably with people or socialize, it’s very unlikely that they will be remembered as someone who was a pleasure to work with. I can only imagine how much more relevant all of this is in terms of a touring production, when you are packed in tight quarters with a certain group of people for very long stretches of time.

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