Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Acting Out

It's the hardest feeling to deal with at any given time.
We may not understand love, but the feeling of love makes us elated. Anger can fuel us to do amazing things (like build an entire set in a night).
Frustration, however, weighs on us. It invades every pore of our being and pulls us down to the ground. I feel like Gulliver lashed to the land.
(Incidentally, the picture...makes me think of Tom with his computer at work.) So why am I frustrated?
It started out as anger, but it became frustration due to reponse. Let me explain:
I'm the Tech Theatre guy at my school. My college degree is in lighting, I have a grasp of sound, and I can design and build a set (though non-warped wood would be nice...I'm just saying). When a show comes up, I am expected to be on call. Fine. Currently, there are two shows running at once. This means two different sound setups, two different lighting setups, and two different stage setups. So today, I had to run back and forth between the booth and backstage to get everything for show 1 ready. Between that, and coverage, dealing with a fellow faculty member who was talking my ear off, and a person unwilling to work with me, I started feeling that tug on the back of my brain. Frustration was waking up in my head and stretching out.
When setup 2 came, it got worse. With only a few minutes to put that show together, only a few students actually listened or even moved. As I'm jumping off the tops of ladders trying to move quickly and help them, I see students just standing there. I ask them to help me, and they just look at me as I'm talking to them in Russian. Fine. I get it done, but frustration is now awake in my brain and having coffee. Before the show starts, I explain, "No one leave afterward, we need to put everything back."
With no one to run the opening, I have to bolt back up to the booth and get the lights ready and going. I'm lucky at this point because there is one person who ends taking over the board for a few minutes, but still: my knee is throbbing, my back is killing me, and not a single person has talked to me other than to say, "We have to get the set up." or, "Make sure you hit the blackout at...."
So, show 2 ends, and I ask for help in getting the stage back to setup 1. Not much is needed for this, just clearing the stage. So, I end up watching as almost everyone leaves. Frustration now sticks out it's arms and grabs my spine slowly working toward my stomach. There are only a few students left now. A couple actually help me, but most just sit there and watch. Even after asking for help, they just sit there. Frustration starts to fill my stomach and make it feel like lead. My entire body is now slumping because of the new weight. Two students and myself are doing all the work.
In an attempt to calm myself down and remove the feelings I was having, I ducked into the scene shop. We call it a scene shop, but realistically, it's nothing more than a closet. Now, when I
was in high school, I was part of a crew (of three) that made sure to go to the shop at our school and clean it up once a week. Tools were put in their proper place, paint check, trash taken care of, and floors cleaned. It would like this picture. We took pride in it, and we made sure it was always easy to get into and get what we needed.
As I walked into the shop today, I was mortified. Tools strewn about the floor, trash EVERYWHERE, and, worst of all, things were missing. Last year, I bought several hundred dollars worth of tools for the department. I made a clear edict: when not in use, the tools go in their cases and are stored. This has not been happening. What's worse? All the drills I got are now missing. I presume stolen as the shop has been left unlocked several times, unbeknowst to me. Having seen this, the feeling of frustration took over almost all my body, but I kept fighting against it. What finally put me over the edge was the most simple thing: I did not get a single thank you for the amount of work I did. Nothing. I gave up my prep period for one show. Nothing. I gave up my lunch for the other. Nothing. So, realizing this, frustration took over my whole body, and I snapped. Did I yell at the students? No. I would prefer not to do that. I know they haven't taken care of the theatre, but I'm just as guilty for not pushing them to do so. No, I just told them to leave. I kicked them out of the theatre so I could clean up without them around and then search for my missing tools. I never found them, though I was tipped on where to look (and need to talk to a few people tomorrow).
I eventually overcame my frustration by breathing and, honestly, by teaching the fourth hour class. Concluding Cloud Nine allowed me to turn my frustration into sarcasm then into humor. Laughing is always the best way to overcome and negative emotion. We take in more air which then makes us feel better. It sounds strange, but for some reason it works.
I know they mean well, but damn. When you do favors or bust your ass for someone, all you ask is for two words. I didn't say anything when I bought tools for them. I didn't say anything when I stayed late and skipped classes to build them sets. I didn't even say anything when I called in sick in order to spend a full day painting or building or whatever. I'm saying something now, because I watched almost a full class of students twiddle their thumbs while a few people did all the work. Then they gave me grief.
Maybe I'm off base. I don't know. I just know that my freshman, who sometimes act like idiots, thank me for working with them.
Then again, what do I know? I'm just some schmuck teacher, folks. I could be wrong.

1 comment:

cat said...

First off, I agree that the LEAST they can do is thank you.

Second off, I agree frustration is probably the worst.

Third off, what is wrong with kids these days. In my day, we all worked hard until everything was done. Time to get off your lazy asses kids and help out.

Fourth off, the kids do not know how LUCKY they are to have someone like you that is willing and able to do the work. Good job Leab!