I have a lot of bad habits, one of which is a tendency to underplay projects I’m associated with, because – I suppose – of an irrational fear that if people think it sucks, they’re also going to think I’m an idiot for pumping it up so highly in the first place.
For the last few days I’ve been doing some prep work for my next directing gig, Getting Away With Murder. In doing so, I have really come to appreciate the script in a way that I hadn’t when I was first given the job. Up until now, I’ve been doing a pretty half-assed job of selling the project to people, almost as if I was apologizing for it. “Eh, it’s an okay script. I’m only doing it because blah, blah, blah.” Now that I’m getting deeper into it, I want to go back and kick my own ass for being such a tool. Is it brilliant? No. But it’s a devilishly fun script, and the more I read and absorb, the more I realize what fun it will be for the actors who get to play it.
In a way, this is one of the things I enjoy most about theater, the ability to constantly learn more about myself. I’ve always had confidence issues, and while my time on stage has certainly improved that dramatically from the *completely* insecure kid I once was, there is still tremendous room for improvement. These days I am generally confident that I can do the job, at least internally, but externally I tend to cloak it in self-depreciation and sarcasm, the theory being, “better to be humble and good, than obnoxious and bad”. Nothing rubs me the wrong way quicker than meeting someone who is brash and cocky and not very good at what they’re being brash and cocky about. I’ve pledged for years never to become “that guy”. So I underplay, I shrug it off, I do whatever I need to do to conceal any real excitement I might have in order to avoid potential disappointment. Of course in doing so, I’m not only shortchanging myself, but scaring away people who might potentially want to be involved, whether it be coming to see something I’m in, or being a part of something I’m involved in.
I used to think it was simply a matter of me not being a good salesman. I worked in sales once, and I generally hated it (the money was nice). I don’t like the feeling that I’m pushing *anything* on somebody. But the reality is, the key to being a good salesman is having confidence in what you’re selling. With the possible exception of cold-call telemarketing (which we all agree is the Devil’s work), most sales opportunities exist because the person being sold to is already interested in the product. Actors *want* to pimped about potential shows. Being the certified whore I am, I should know. Hell, actors want to be pimped for stuff they can’t or won’t do, just because being pimped is like being hit on. Single or not, it’s still flattering. Yet for some reason there was (is) a disconnect between me the buyer and me the seller.
Why this is coming as a revelation to me *now*, I couldn’t say. But I do know this, a lesson has been learned. How much I’ll be able to really change remains to be seen. While it would appear to be so logical to me now, there’s a side of me buried deep within that will no doubt rear it’s ugly head the next time I need to put the hard sell on to somebody. But they say step one to facing down a problem is admitting you have it. So consider this step one.
Wow. Thirty-four years and I *still* haven’t got the hang of this “growing up” thing.
BONUS POINT: This post is the first thing I’ve typed for this stupid blog that was more than 50 words long and which passed the spell-check on the first try. Today… I feel less dumber.