in·spire, vb. to exert a stimulating or beneficial effect upon a person; to animate or invigorate
I know some people who need a little invigoration today (myself included), and my partner in crime Stoney and I are running out of ways to provide it. We are three weeks out and things look a little on the ho-hum side. Grease is such a popular musical, one would think it’d be hard to screw it up. “People will love it anyway!”
Um, nope. That don’t play in Peoria. Or Greenwich, Ohio, either.
How does one inspire a group of students, most of whom are so incredibly overextended they can barely keep up with homework and sleep? I mean, I’m all for trying new things while in school. I’ve often told my students that this will likely be the only time in their lives when they can do fun stuff and not worry about paying the mortgage or working a 10-hour day after the fun stuff is over. So do it now, while you can. But for some students, it’s become an obsession: do not only as much as you can humanly fit into 24 hours, but also be involved in absolutely everything so as to not truly excel at any of it. I can’t imagine the stress these kids put on themselves.
How times have changed. My parents would have never allowed me to be away from home from 7:30 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., no matter what I was involved in. It seems now that if you’re 17 years old and not stressed to the hilt, pounding down Monsters or coffee like there’s no tomorrow, you’re somehow not pulling your weight. Being beyond busy = cool. People…there’s a limit, seriously. What happened to perspective and balance? I’ve known busy students; I know some now, too. They make it work. But they’re not so overburdened that they can’t handle it and end up sucking at everything. I’m seeing more and more of this phenomenon, and it’s troubling. But excellence is still expected, as evidenced by the sale of 350 tickets in a 2-hour span at the box office last night…
So how does one inspire these young people, who come to rehearsal after everything else in their day is exhausted? We get them when they’re tired, hungry, sore, mad at the coach, behind on their homework, and sometimes after having lost a heartbreaker of a game. Think of that mental state. Then we expect them to be brilliant onstage. And sometimes, they are brilliant.
This ain’t one of those times, trust me.
So, most esteemed and insightful fiends: how do we inspire them today? What do we say? How do we add to their load and lighten it at the same time? Maybe it’s a problem with Stoney and me. Maybe it’s never good enough for us. Oh, boo hoo, stop whinin’. It’s Wemsday, which means it’s almost Finkday. Yay! (Still, I covet your articulate and compendious thoughts on this subject.)