She’s A Super Freak, Super Control Freak

Sticks Author: Rachel

 

Anyone who knows me even reasonably well knows that I am a control freak.  I try and keep my control-freakiness in check and apply it to useful things such as planning parties, choosing restaurants, booking hotels etc…but it’s definitely something I battle with daily.  No one likes to be bossed around and, left to my own devices, I’d probably have an opinion on what you should have for breakfast and where to buy your next pair of sneakers.

This “issue” I have has been useful in my professional life.  I was a teacher, and got to control an entire classroom of kids all day long.  I also run a theater camp and get to call most of the shots in that arena as well.  Every summer, the theater camp I direct gives a variety show performance the third week of the program.  We feature the campers performing all sorts of different talents including hip hop, monologues, stage combat, and Shakespeare.  Every year it is the highlight of my camp experience… except for one ten-minute period when I have to leave the auditorium and hide in the bathroom.  It’s the ten-minute comedy improvisation performance.  I literally cannot handle being in the room while it is going on.  I am convinced it will result in the sound of crickets reverberating through the room while the audience silently wonders to themselves, what were they thinking?

Fortunately, that’s never happened, the kids perform a hilarious scene and leave with newfound confidence in themselves and their ability.  But this insecurity about improvisation is not their problem, it’s mine.  And it has been a problem my entire performing career.  The minute someone says the word, I look for the nearest script and hold on tight, convinced that the written word is sure to be funnier and more entertaining than what I could come up with.   My inner control freak screams out for, in the words of Stephen Sondheim,   “Order. Design. Composition. Tone. Form. Symmetry. Balance.”  None of which have a lot to do with improvisation.

Still, I find myself every other week trekking out the door to go do the activity I fear the most.  And I have been thinking about why.  Why torture myself and others in this way?  I think it comes down to wanting to in some way put some order into this art I find so disorderly.  To try and figure out what works and what doesn’t…to find its rhythms, the game, the character, the beats.  I’ve been improv’ing in one form or another for thirty years.

Maybe by year forty I won’t cringe at that thought.

 

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2 Comments

  1. jen

     /  January 21, 2011

    It’s so funny that your such a good improv performer, and that you look so comfortable and natural doing it…and yet you have such anxiety going on inside! No one would EVER know it Rache!

    Reply
  2. kcord23

     /  January 28, 2011

    Rache I think you and I are most alike when it comes to this improv. I have this fear of it too because you can’t control it. With no script it makes me anxious. I like knowing what I’m doing, knowing people what is coming, having that written word to memorize. It is this fear of the unknown that makes me feel unhinged about improv. I think you are well on your way to overcoming your fear. You are a quick wit, so funny and your characters are always interesting. You are my role model girl! Instead of What would Jesus do?…I ask myself at improv rehearsal, What would Rachel do? This helps me!

    Reply

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