Falling With Style: Artist’s Temperament or Artist’s Temper?

Helen Laroche continues to chronicle her life as an emerging actress in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I am in tech week for a show, and to be honest, things aren’t going well.

We’ve all been there, right? I mean, sometimes you get lucky: cue-to-cue goes quickly, tech week is a breeze, and you sail right through opening weekend without once silently begging yourself for a nap.

But most of the time, it’s a bumpy ride to opening night. You may start to question whether the show will come together in time — and often, miraculously, it does. (At which point you decide maybe this is one of the shows you’ll invite people to after all.)

Tech week can be a roller coaster for any show. But with the wrong attitudes, it can be a full-blown nightmare. I’ve experienced this a handful of times: a web of negative energy cloud that can ensnare every member of the cast and artistic staff. It’s sometimes passed off as “the artist’s temperament,” and symptoms include yelling, lack of discipline and poor preparation.

My job as an artist is to bring my work every day regardless of what’s brought around me. But it’s hard not to get ensnared in negativity, particularly this close to opening night.

The questions I’m tackling now are: 1) What do I need to do to operate at an artistic level I’m proud of without getting distracted by others’ energy?, and 2) At what point does the artistic merit and exposure from a given production outweigh the experience of slogging through negative rehearsals?

Do the ends ameliorate the means? I’m finding that, in most cases, they do not.