On this week’s Story Matters Podcast (which you should all listen to, right after you listen to it’s host, Curt Mega, on my podcast), Corey Lubowich said, “If you can’t fix it, feature it.” It’s a phrase I’ve heard before, of course, but for some reason it’s resonating with me this week as the secret to everything in life. Just be you. Be the best you you can be. Fix the things about yourself that you don’t like, but then just be honest and upfront about who you are, and you’ll attract the right people.
Today, though, it made me think about one of my favorite regional theaters in the world. On Martha’s Vineyard, there’s an amphitheater in the woods where the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse puts on productions every summer. Some of my favorite theater
moments have happened there, when directors embraced the “if you can’t fix it, feature it” philosophy in dealing with the real challenge of putting on a production in the middle of the woods, at dusk, where there aren’t good places for the actors to hide when they’re offstage (unless you build a set, which has to be weather-proof). Here are some of my favorite moments of all time.
- A production of Waiting for Godot. In the middle of the woods. I was a teenager and it was my first exposure to the play, and remains my reference point. They selected one tree that was behind the audience to be “the tree” referred to throughout the play. Somehow, the presence of all the other trees did not detract from the experience.
- The Tempest, in which Caliban came running through the underbrush from way back in the distance. The choice was made because there was no good place to hide him, but the effect was to underscore Caliban’s wildness and relationship with the forest. Part of me believed Caliban was living there all along.
- I can’t remember the play, but it was a comedy, and whenever a plane flew over us, making it hard to hear, the entire cast stopped and looked up in frustration until the plane could no longer be heard. It turned an ongoing frustration with the space into a running gag that the audience loved.
- A production of Othello was scheduled toward the end of the summer. The sun went down before the end of the play, so they lit the final scenes with torches. The effect was perfect, especially because as an audience member, you didn’t think about what was happening during the play. It just kept getting darker, then Othello lit some torches in the bedchamber, then as the murder was discovered, more and more people entered carrying torches (as they would have in Shakespeare’s time). After the play, the actors lined up along the path to the exit holding the torches so the audience could leave safely. Brilliant.
So Corey Lubowich is exactly right. If there’s something you can’t change, face it as a challenge, and use it to make yourself more brilliant.
Ongoing giveaway as part of the Curt Mega Warbler Extravaganza! Win a Playbill signed by nine members of the cast of In Transit, including former Warbler Telly Leung.