Saturday, September 18, 2010

“Too” High a Standard?

Contributed by Guest Blogger of the week, Cat Parker

What IS “good enough?” Good enough for who… uh… whom? At the expense of what?

I’ve been bombarded recently by instances of having to push, hard, for the best in my work. And sometimes the pushing is not well received. And because my work is collaborative in nature, I can’t push alone. It can be difficult when one person aims for the stars, and others are content with the clouds. One actor gives 150% to a role, the next gives 100% - who’s ‘wrong’ in this instance? Is there a ‘wrong?’

Our resources are minimal, and yet we’re surrounded by platitudes “necessity is the mother of invention,” “go big or go home,” and “poverty breeds creativity.” We do theatre because we love it; we do it in NYC because we want to make a living at it. So we go for the gold, reach for the stars, etc. And yet…there are those that are happy at “good enough.”

How do these people work together? Conventional wisdom says you have to learn to cheerlead, to make people want to work harder, be better, reach for the stars. I confess, I’m not a good cheerleader – I can’t jolly people into coming along with me for the ride cuz it will be fun, awardwinning, profitable. Because oftentimes, it won’t be. It will be difficult, and frustrating. Will it be worth it in the end? I say “yes.” But will you agree? How would I know? I don’t know your priorities, your inner ruler by which you measure these things. All I can really say is what is the point of doing anything if you don’t give it your all?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a Fosse or Welles or Cameron, people known for their drive and determination in every way. There are days when I seriously want to chuck it all, go work in a flower shop, have a dog, pay my taxes and have a real honest-to-god weekend. But I just can’t! This storytelling..disease..won’t let me go. And so I do it again. And I push to do it the best that I can with every breath. And I piss people off. And sometimes I’m sorry about that – and sometimes I’m not.

I have no closing paragraph for this. I don’t know the answer. The closest I get is to search for like-minded people and then work with them again and again. And avoid the “good enoughers.” Not because they’re wrong – just because it’s wrong for me.


  1. "All I can really say is what is the point of doing anything if you don’t give it your all?"

    Majorly and love ya Cat,
    D's :)

  2. I don't see the controversy in this. The whole point of artistic expression is to expand yourself as far as you can go. I can see it as a problem in a collaboration when one person tries to make the other expand in directions the other doesn't want to go or realistically can't go. Then, compromise may be needed. But that's not about setting standards that's about recognizing differences, limitations and reality. I think it's a matter of how one works, not necessarily how hard one works. When there's passion in the work it doesn't feel like working hard it feels like doing what simply must be done. When there's no passion (as when someone feels that they are a pawn in someone else's game rather than the primary mover of their own- or a solid part of a team of primary movers) then doing anything it all feels like too much work.