Guest Blogger Blog - Alyssa

2016-12-11_CRADLEROCK Hello Manitou Friends!

I hope you all had a wonderful winter holiday season—hopefully with some much deserved time off! When starting to choose something to write about, I thought about the start of new semesters, longer growing days (slightly—this is Boston we’re talking about…), and beginning new projects.  However, I also feel it's important to also reflect on your most recent projects to get closure and think about what you've learned from the process.  It's always hard to say goodbye to an old friend.

My last show was designing costumes for Boston University's production of The Cradle Will Rock (which also featured councilor and Manitou alum, Kyra!)  From getting the assignment on one of the last days of Manitou, to our closing show on December 17th, this show and all its ideas, joys, and worries have consumed my life.  The process of letting go of this show has led me to ponder all it's taught me and what I strive to bring with me to the next production.

Starting a new show is always daunting.  I call it blank canvas syndrome: when the possibilities are endless, how can you know what idea, what choice, will actually hold weight?  The answer?  ...You can't--usually you have to write or draw some crap before you get anywhere near the "good stuff". My policy has become to start somewhere (anywhere) and embrace where the spark will lead. I encourage you all to take the leap and dive right in.  Give your shows a chance, you never know when and how you'll fall in love with it.

After all I've learned in the process of this show and grad school in general, I am working on trusting my design instincts and letting myself explore further and deeper into any given show.  Changes or limitations you might face in the process usually lead to a more cohesive and creative finished production.  During Cradle design meetings, full of brilliant people I'm honored to have worked with, it seemed like we considered every option imaginable, searching for just the right way to tell this story, to these people, right now.  We discussed versions that grounded the piece in 1930s mural imagery, or even a commentary on climate change that involved our set sinking into an oil-stained floor, before ultimately landing on our own interpretation of a surreal dystopia, that for a show written in 1936, is perhaps uncomfortably relatable to our own political climate.

The moral (I guess) is that you never know where a thought, idea, or show is going to end up.  The same text can be interpreted a thousand of ways and tell countless stories, if we are brave to push far enough.  The best part of theater is that we are not alone.  We work as a team to bring these ethereal moments to life, and it is a continual gift and a privilege--one I am so grateful to have in my life.  And I will be forever thankful to be a part of this Manitou community where join in the celebration of this sharing of art and ideas.  I cannot wait to hear about your shows, creativity, and new inspirations.

Be bold.  Make big choices and enjoy the wild ride that follows.

Wishing you all the best,