Mentors

August 23, 2012
This acerbic and witty article demonstrates that mentoring applies just as much to the budding actor in the world of film or theatre as it does to the young person in a corporate business environment.

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A ”Fond Farewell” Article

When I changed Support4Change to a new format, I needed to delete some articles that didn’t fit in the new site but were too good to completely throw away. So I have moved many of them here to the blog, where they will still be available and people can find them by using tags. Enjoy.

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Mentors

BY TRAVIS BAKER
From the newsletter of TWIT – This Week in Theatre, featured on TheatreWarehouse.com, reprinted with permission

Bowery Stage

At some point in this theatre life you have had/will have/are having an educational and invigorating relationship with a mentor. And at some point, almost inevitably you have had/will have/are having a serious problem with the big dope.

Mentors are tricky creatures, at once they encourage and push and prod and yet are easily offended, often for the very same things that got them to where they are. Mentors want you to be original, envelope pushing, horizon broadening creative artists, yet when your horizons spread beyond their own, when your originality breaks with all they hold dear, they get cranky and start sending nasty e-mails and plaintive notes your way. Where once you happily received an encouraging post-card from Prague, you now tremble with dread at the little envelope from Tribeca that reads, “Your play, I hate it.”

Take heart, dear hearts! Such rifts are par for the course in life on stage and off. Just as one must tell Dad to go jump in a lake at some point in our youth, so too must we flip a bird to our former teachers and strike off on our own for a time. Not to do so would invite repetition of form and thought, an utter lack of originality and hesitation towards the next step.

We will stumble, certainly, and we won’t have the delicious joy of wandering backstage after the show and saying, guess who was here tonight? No, we won’t have that; we’ll have to count the 80, 90, 450 other people in the audience as equally worthy of our efforts and ourselves equally receptive to their applause.

And what, one may ask, is a mentor to do when his/her younglings begin to show that wanderlust in their eyes and seem to be putting up shows just to piss you off? Face it, unconditional love and support is overrated! Let ’em go, preferably with some harsh words and a swift kick to the backside.

Give them something to rebel against when there’s not much more to teach. Give them a purpose, a quest, to prove to you they’re better then you thought they were! And then, after they’ve struggled and strived and stopped putting your name in their bios and press releases, when they’ve stopped sending you post-cards or e-invites secure in the knowledge that the massive press they’re receiving will do the job just fine, when they’ve cursed your name a thousand times, when they’ve beaten you out for a Tony, go up to them at a party, give them a big hug and a kiss, look at them with a wry smile and say, “Well, of course, I always believed you could do it.”

That’ll just kill ’em, it really will.

© Copyright 2002, Travis Baker, TWIT – This Week in Theatre, reprinted with permission

TheatreWarehouse.com was a service of Fractured Atlas, a NYC-based, non-profit artist services organization. Resources listed relate to health benefits, legal assistance, grant application, as well as discussion and networking forums. Membership is free, and provides access to a comprehensive, industry-specialized communications hub and career management tool. 

 Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

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