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Institutionalized

March 19, 2013 — Leave a comment

Okay, enough with the the wanderer-is-lost repetitive business. Let’s look at this thing from another point of view. Because when all you have is time to think, it’s very easy to see things from many different perspectives. Why, sometimes I’ll have six different opinions on something before breakfast. (Apologies to Lewis Carroll for that one.)

Recently, I had to make a decision about what I’m doing next year, and deliver it in writing to my employers by March 1st. To say that I was conflicted about that decision is an understatement. I even had two letters written up, in case I changed my mind at the last minute. Which is typical of me. Sometimes I have a tough time deciding on something.

We’re not going to get into which letter was turned in, and what I’m doing come fall, because that’s a long ways off, and a lot could change between now and then. And while living in this strange ghostly limbo life has its downsides, it’s also kind of awesome. Let’s unpack that a bit, shall we?

1. I have a lot of time to myself.

I like to write, I like to read, I like to create websites. I also like to get lost in my head when I’m going through some big decision-making, and right now my lifestyle has a lot of room for all of that. Subbing in a high school room? While the kids are taking a test or watching Patton, I get to debate with myself different options for my future. Maybe write a bit. And read practically all of the Internet.Ā I haven’t worked for the past two days, so I got to overhaul BrianFauth.com and finally create a theatre portfolio/personal website I’m pretty pleased with. And I got caught up on The Walking Dead.

2. I get to drop everything and go wherever I want.

When my buddy Drew suggested I go to the presidential Inauguration with him, it only took a few minutes before I said, “why not?” Free place to stay in South Carolina? Hey, why not drive down there and hang out in the south for a few weeks. Explore some historical sites and cities and listen to a lot of podcasts while crossing the Appalachian mountains. Not a bad life.Ā Granted, I still have to pay for gas, food, and the occasional hotel room, so I’m a bit broke at the moment. And not getting a call to work for the past two days is putting a bit of a damper on possible future road trips.

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The Shenandoah Valley

3. This is all part of a Grand Plan even I can’t really explain. But I’ll try.

Let’s not forget the simple fact that I got to live in Europe for six whole months.Ā My time in Dublin and at UCD was fantastic; we all know that. But it was the living over there that really taught me something; I only get so much from sitting in a classroom. Thomas Jefferson, when he founded the University of Virginia, didn’t want to issue degrees; he wanted it to be a place where you could go until you felt you had learned enough, and then you could move on with your life. Del Close, the famous Second City teacher, once said to Jon Favreau (the director of Iron Man and Elf), “Why would you go to school to learn about theatre?” He thought it more important to learn about philosophy and life and finding The Truth.

(I needed a certain number of classes to get a theatre endorsement, so there was a practical element to taking classes over there, but it was really about living a different life and spending time with some dear friends, while I could. Get a little bit closer to The Truth.)

I want to become a better theatre director, but I also want to become a better teacher as well. For the past few years, I’ve started to get honors and awards, and the phrase The Best Teacher I Ever Had starts getting thrown around a lot. And all of that is great, believe me. But the more you do the same job, in the same room, with the same lessons and jokes and stories, it’s very easy to become an institution. Mr. Fauth and Viking Day and the impressions and the Simpsons jokes.

I’m not really interested in being Institutionalized (in any sense of the word!) I wanted to kind of blow up everything and start over. Give away everything in my classroom, sell half of my possessions, start over somewhere else. Learn how to do it all over again. And subbing? That strips you back to the essentials real quick. No one knows who you are when you walk into that room, and you’ve got 41 minutes, or 48, or maybe a day to win them over. You aren’t The Famous Mr. Fauth. You’re just Some Guy, and if you can get a room full of bored high school kids to listen to you, then you can do just about anything.

So wherever I go and whatever I do come fall, even if it’s right back in the same 5th grade classroom, hopefully I’ve reset myself enough that I can bring something new into the room, and keep myself fresh and energized for the next round of this thing called life.

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To the Elephant! My personal motto for living life.

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During my time in youth theatre, I’ve had the good fortune to work with a lot of great people. I wouldn’t even know how to begin to list all of them, but I imagine they’ll get brought up from time to time on here. Although I don’t plan on having this thing be just a bunch of “remember when” stories. No point in continually looking back to what’s already done and over with. Time marches on, life goes forward and all that. But you put the years in, and you wind up meeting some remarkable people.

I’m thinking of a couple of guys who have had some good fortune come their way lately. Kevin is a young guy I worked with on quite a few shows over the years, and last week he found a full-time job teaching history and running the drama program where I graduated high school. (It’s also where I got my start directing youth theatre as well, but I’ll save that tale for another time.) His first show will be one we did together back in 2005.

 

Adrian only appeared in one play I directed (he played Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream), but he was involved with Limelight for other shows, including his fantastic work as Music Director/Choreographer for Lumberjacks: The Musical! (Limelight’s first all-original musical to come from a casual joke made about an overflow of flannel shirts in the costume room.)

Anyway, Adrian was just nominated for a Jeff award for his performance in “tick…tick…Boom!” earlier this year. It’s a big deal, but honestly, if I know him, he’s more excited about the fact that he’s going to become a father for the first time later this year.

And that’s just what’s happening this week. There are others who are also doing great things out there, but this post has enough links and references for now. But Amanda and Tiffany and Anthony and Kris and Leslie and many, many others amaze me every day. ‘Nuff said.

Did I have much to do with their successes? Not really. (Definitely not Adrian. He came in already far ahead of anything I could teach him.) Hopefully I provided a place for them to be a little creative, to try something different, for one show or for many.

Even with this degree I’m about to start, I don’t expect to have a future that involves Jeff nominations or joining Equity. I’m a teacher. I’m good at it. If anything, I’m hoping to translate this into something where I can teach drama on a more full-time basis. I spent too many years in theatre while also trying to teach full-time. That wore me out.

So we’ll see where life takes me. Time is short, though, and sometimes I forget that I’m not a young guy in his twenties anymore. Right now, I have a big stack of books I have to read, and I should probably get working on that. But I was thinking about those two guys today, and I’m very proud of their successes, and what’s coming for the both of them.

 

(It’s a BIG stack.)