A few years ago I started really feeling the pressure and stress and consequences of trying to teach 5th grade all day, and run a big theatre company on the nights and weekends, directing shows and overseeing others and preparing for our yearly massive summer season. It got so bad that I actually took a couple of weeks off from school to rest and recharge, lest it all lead towards me turning into some sort of lunatic. (Well, any more than I already am.)
I referred to the two careers I had, and the war between them, as The Two-Headed Mr. Fauth. The teacher, Mr. Fauth, and Brian, the director. I loved doing both, but they were taking its toll. In the summer of 2011 I stepped down from running Limelight, but couldn’t stay away from the stage, electing to direct a pair of shows at a local junior high. I went with a pair of shows I had directed in the past, to save creative energy, but I felt like I was cheating a bit by recycling sets and ideas from the past.
And that brings me to Dublin, where I’ve taken a break from being Mr. Fauth to concentrate on developing skills as a theatre director, to add tools to the toolkit, as they say. And it’s been a great experience, but it still doesn’t solve the lingering equation: which one am I going to be?
Tonight I wrapped up my fall director’s project: a staged read of Chekhov’s The Proposal. Not his most famous (or even his best work), it’s a 20-minute farce about two people who let petty arguing and their shallow principles stand in the way of their potential happiness as a married couple. Tonight went very well, and I’m happy with the results, for what they were. (It was an exercise, not a proper “show”, so no real sets or lights or anything like that.) And I found I had to “teach” a lot more about theatre than I would have imagined, and it was gratifying to see that my skills were needed.
My goal is to leave this place with that great war settled, or at least at a cease-fire. Being away from the classroom has quickly made me realize how at home I am in it, and I’m anxious to get back to doing what I do best. And theatre? Well, I have deeper thoughts on my relationship with trodding the boards, but we’ll save that for another post. I suppose the easiest solution is to figure out how I can teach theatre full-time, and merge the two heads, but that has its own hurdles as well.
To be continued…