Starting this week off working with an incredibly talented group of individuals on this year’s Alliance Kendeda Playwriting Festival. One of the reasons I never pass up an opportunity to work on staged readings is because it allows me a glimpse behind the curtain of the writer, director and actors in a collaborative and exploratory way. Not that those things don’t happen in other circumstances, but it’s like the difference between talking with a toddler or pre-teen about life and how they see it and feel it and explore it versus a fifty or sixty-year-old. One group is still exploring and forming ideas and asking questions. The other has pretty much settled on tried and true facts about life, death and taxes, etc.. with just a little cake thrown in every now and then for good measure.
A particular question that came to mind while we were discussing the narrative of this play was my curiosity about what it is to resent ambition or resent satisfaction?
Even as I ponder the question, I am faced with answering it in this moment, because the circumstances of life beautifully conspire to give me empirical examples to guide my thinking. The Festival is taking place at The Alliance Theatre, which just so happens to share the campus with the High Museum, which is used in any number of film and television shoots, which today, there is a big ‘ol production happening and as I sit in the light-filled lobby area eating my lunch and typing this I can look out at the hive of activity around the film shoot and be envious of the ambition to be there while also feeling the satisfaction of working with a group of some of Atlanta’s top talent and an intriguing writer.
Ambition (feels like): Over There
Satisfaction (feels like): Right Here
Neither is good or bad. It’s like food, it can’t be quantified as one thing or another, it simply is what it is and we humans put the label on it, hoping, I think, to find a place for it in our vaults of things – including emotions, feelings, people, shoes.....
Beyond work metaphors, this story goes deeper into familial landscapes and what is the experience of our evolution from child to adult? What is the experience of big business success versus personal success? What happens when presented with the choice of following an instinct versus following a previously experienced experience (by someone else and written about by someone else)?
Questions. Curiosity. Community. These are three of the main reasons I love the world of acting and storytelling. I wish for a world where we can be in conversation with each other and find acceptance of each other, whether or not we are in the throes of ambition or the ecstasy of satisfaction.