Friday, 28 December 2012

Past, Present and Future

The years have been flying by so fast nowadays. Seems like just yesterday we were planning Second Storey’s grand opening. I wish I was more eloquent so I could write about the deep meaning of improv and how it moves and shapes my life in a positive way. I can’t, so I will just ramble on instead.

In the last 6 months I have been living my lifelong dream of owning and operating my own improv theatre. I say 6 months because 6 months ago I quit my day job of 10 years to put my full effort into being an artistic director and actor. I have been involved in the theatre since 2009, but took it over solo in the middle of 2011 and have been fully in charge since Jan 2012. I have been able to do this because of the support that surrounds me; I have a loving and supportive family and girlfriend. This may turn into a mushy thank you, so bear with me.

It wasn’t just my family and friends that supported me. It was also the 40+ improvisers and volunteers that were willing to put the time and work in to produce a great show and push themselves further with their improv. They stood by and trusted me when I had no idea where we would be going. They held me up when I was exhausted from working a full time job as well attempting to run the theatre. They understood that when I would yell it was out of love and desire to help them move forward. (This isn’t always understood. I can come across a little harsh at times.) They helped create the amazing community that we now enjoy in our little space. I owe them a lot. I assume I am feeling mushy because it is the holiday season, but everyone does deserve a thank you.

Another reason for this post is because I am back at my old job for a couple weeks to cover while my former boss is away. It feels different. Not just because it isn’t permanent – I think it also has something to do with how good I feel and how much positive energy I now have around me. I don’t remember having felt this happy before. Being able to create as a job is pretty amazing. I am not at a level where I am financially secure, but I am getting by. I also have seen that being able to focus on what I love without distractions makes it grow so fast. The last year has been a whirlwind. The theatre has grown more in the last 6 months then I ever could have expected. I love that I am chasing to keep up.

So here we are in the present. We have thanked the past. How about the future?

The future has been on my mind recently. I was at an arts convention full of artists from all over the lower mainland and island. We were asked to sit at tables with people we didn’t know. The hosts asked us questions and we would then discuss them with our groups. Some of it was useless. There were a lot of people saying how hard times were and that they need the government to give them money. We also looked at our companies and decided where we were at. Were we at the idea stage, the growth stage or all the way on the other side at the terminal stage?

Terminal stage was the last stage, which meant the end of the road or a chance for rebirth. I put Second Storey at the growth stage, but there were a lot of groups at that scary terminal stage. I was able to shake it off and think that we weren’t headed in that direction. We are new and hip and edgy. We are gonna last forever. This was how I felt – until a little blue-haired lady from the island said this to me: “I was young hip and edgy once. My audience was right there with me. Now I’m a little old lady and my audience is dying off. Think about that now while you can.”

Those words are still rolling around in my head. It really put things in perspective for me. I want the community we have built to continue to grow, change, challenge and push forward with or without me. I am still attempting to figure out what this all means. I know that our mission and ideas need to be clear so that others can carry it on for years to come. People are starting to emerge as leaders but many more are needed…

I have been stuck after that sentence for a long time. It proves to me that I have not found the all the answers yet. (Not that I ever expect to!) I do know that I don’t want to be a little old man looking back wishing I had done something different. I also realize that it means I will have to start to give up some of the responsibility around the theatre. This is definitely not something that comes easily to me. It shows me that I know what I want for this company and community. I want it to continue on long after I am gone. I want it to always be edgy and cool, relevant and supportive, challenging and special for those involved. I want it to be a family. I can be pretty protective of that because I see how great it is. I need to keep moving forward. I need to always be present, thankful and peering to the future. Well, better get back it.

I have since written a Mission Statement

Mission Statement ​
Our mission is to use improv to build and support a home for performers, volunteers and audience to call their own.

We will strive to stay relevant, supportive, challenging and special for those involved. Our priority is to push everyone to find the greatness within themselves and apply it to their lives. We will continue to pursue perfection with a clear understanding that we will never achieve it. Instead, our focus is to build trust in our group and continue to experience the journey. We will attempt to instill a desire to keep learning and avoid complacency; to always be working toward personal goals and celebrating our achievements.
We will not linger on roadblocks. We will look for the positive in all situations and spread that positivity to those around us. Above all else, we will maintain a healthy improv environment where we can continue to learn and grow.