A Thought for the Summer Serians

July’s Summer Series was met with disdain by some of our company members.  They felt we were talking down to the crowd.  They felt we were badgering the audience for donations.  They felt we were plugging our own stuff too often.  They felt the actors worked on characters they didn’t like.  They felt it didn’t fully represent “our” art.

They were embarrassed to watch the performance.

I took offense to embarrassed.  We’ve never done family-friendly or street theatre before– we’re still trying to learn what those things mean.  We’ve got mouths to feed and lots of other projects happening around town.  The actors chose their own characters.  Most importantly:  what the hell is Heads Up’s “art?”

There was validity to their claims.  However, I would have never used the word embarrassed.  Whether the performance was good or not– we learned from it.  We can come back stronger and faster.  We made mistakes and will grow because we made them.

Embarrassed felt inappropriate.

The second weekend, the performance was met with similar outcry– a pelting rain of thunderous proportion.

As the rain drove away all but one or two of the very bravest audience members (and even those huddled together to watch from the doorway of the Market Path, forcing the playing space to turn a complete 180), I thought about intervening to tell the actors to stop.  But, being the person I am, decided it was more interesting to see how long they would continue before giving up.

My unknown challenge was accepted.  They finished the entire show.  What’s more, it took on a new and powerful energy.

One of the core elements of our Suzuki Training is stomping.  We say that your presence can be measured by the strength of your stomps.  If your stomp can be easily dismissed, so can you.

The only other time I have witnessed a group of Heads Up actors stomp with such magnitude was during 1,000 Hills, when an actor was rushed from the hospital in time to perform her role.  There is something that pulses through an actor struggling against a force of nature– be it a torrential downpour or illness– that summons a heroic deed.

How can an actor create that kind of stimuli for every single performance?

In Suzuki Training, you are learning to summon that heroic deed by creating those tensions for yourself–inside of yourself.

Watching that Summer Series performance, I was able to see Heads Up put their training into practice.  That single stomp has had reverberations throughout each of those actors’ lives.  They are no longer as easy to dismiss as they once were.

The July Summer Series may not have been our best production.   But I wasn’t embarrassed.

In fact, I was quite proud.

-Benjamin Rexroad
Managing Artistic Director


  1. Never be embarassed of your art. Nothing but the best and no regrets. Putka-isms


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