Tuesday, September 15, 2009

On the subject of "Connections and Definitions"

(I began this entry and realized I had not finished it... so I am sharing it with you now. It was written just after the premiere of my improv group's first original show in September.)

The world has been very right of late. That is nothing short of amazing considering how very wrong it could have been.

In one week, my life was going to be defined in one way or another, and the pressure was getting to be incredible. Around me, life was going on and I had no idea what the outcome was going to be. You, my internet friends, are probably wondering what I am talking about. After all, I have been absent from the blogosphere, but with good reason.

This summer was one of transition. In work, I was now working for a totally new set of clients, all of whom I had to educate in who I am and what I can do. At the same time, I was really exploring the world of improv. I had started a group and, with the help of some talented people, was looking towards creating an original show. Nothing that was familiar when I started the summer would remain at the end, or at least it seemed that way.

Following the magical cruise, life took a turn towards responsibility. Work took a very serious tone with huge expectations. Family life had new challenges with our attempt to buy a new house while selling place we have called home for 12 years.My daughter... starting middle school. My son, becoming a young man. My wife, stressed over everything. And me, well, at least I had improv.

As September began, the pressure was mounting. Expectations were high at my work to create a great atmosphere for the team I was working for. The team, which had not won a game in more than a year, needed an emotional boost, while dealing with the economic reality of life as we know it. Simply put, they needed more for less, and looked to me to do it.

In a parallel universe was my improv show. We had been rehearsing this show for months and had never made it through an entire run through. I was nervous that maybe I had set the expectations too high for something that was supposed to be fun.

All the while, I felt a real need for everything to work, never doubting it would, but always doubting whether others would say it did.

On Saturday, the 5th... the first game with the new bosses came and went, and the expectations of the presentation were exceeded. Relief... no doubt. However, that was all about work for a client. The next six days would be about pleasing just one client... the toughest one I had ever come across. Me.

I had hyped this improv show to heights that even I could not comprehend. Websites, twitter, facebook, e-mails, posters.... everything I had to be PT Barnum - barking to anyone who would listen. But there was a palpable buzz about what we were creating. I had talked about the show being different, and many aspects of it were shrouded in "secrecy." I left myself with no grey area... either it was going to be a huge success or a terrible flop.

On Tuesday night, the cast of my show met at our usual rehearsal place, but this time, the stakes had been raised. An invited audience of some of the top people in improv was in place, as well as members of another improv group that has been doing shows around town. I told the gathering very little about what they were going to see other than it was our dress rehearsal.

Moment by moment, the show came together before my eyes. The imagined world of romance and improv colliding was taking place. From the opening monologues on heartbreak to the final montage on Newts, most everything was organically coming together, just as I had thought it could. Fact is, our amazing director,Mandy, had understood my vision and gave us the tools to succeed. Sadly, she could not see the final product as she had a job assignment take her away just as the show was about to take place.

After the rehearsal, I nervously waited for notes from the audience. They came in great numbers... but they were not what I had expected. The first was about our chemistry. The audience noted that they could all tell we genuinely liked... even loved each other. They talked about the fact that the show had such a uniqueness to it that it was hard to define... but was so easy to understand.

On Friday night, we performed the premiere (and what we thought would be the only performance) of {girl meets boy}. It was a magical evening, everything we imagined it could be and some things that we could have never believed. A packed house, an appreciative crowd, glowing reviews from the audience and a feeling of accomplishment that beat any Emmy Award I had ever won. This was a piece of my heart, shared with the world, and accepted. That was the best feeling of all.

To share the experience with the people I love most, my family and my improv family. It was truly a defining moment, and one I will never forget.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger