Friday, December 5, 2008

The Yardstick of Success

In this economy, I am not only lucky to have a job but to have one I love. I am directing a play for Upstart Crow Studios this holiday season. At the Studios we make it our business to work with all children - no child is turned away. This particular production, I had the pleasure of working with an autistic teenage girl. Repetition works well for autism and theatre has been a good vehicle for many of the autistic children who come to us. 

Despite her obvious awkward moments with the choreography and dialogue, she was always eager to try. The other cast members recognized her challenges and stepped in to make sure she was in the "right spot" or cue her patiently with dialogue. It was heartwarming to watch them bond as a cast. On the field or on stage, these children knew what it meant to be a team.

Dress and tech rehearsal this week was the girl's undoing. The lights, the tension, the backstage chaos, it all proved too much for her. She shut down. The cast carried on without her and we finished the night, tired and unhappy. As they left, her mother told me, with tears in her eyes, how much this experience meant to her and her daughter. I was heartbroken that her daughter had made it so far and like Moses would not see the promised land but I knew she was not able to go on for the final performance. 

So what is the measure of success? Is it the final product or the struggle to get there? Is it less of a triumph because we did not make it all the way? Or is each day we survive the struggle, the yardstick we should use to measure our success?

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