Friday, April 9, 2010

The Life-Changing Minute

Posted by Austin Savage, Observer for the Society of Directors & Choreographers for The Good Negro

I was sitting at home in El Paso, Texas, when a mysterious phone number flashed across my cell phone. I normally choose to avoid answering unknown numbers due to the fact that they tend to be solicitous calls for magazine subscriptions or automated voices relating to student loan payments. However, the prefix listed it as a Chicago number, and I decided to answer in the hope that it may have something to do with the fact that I had recently applied to be an Observer for the Society of Directors & Choreographers for the Goodman Theatre production of The Good Negro. The call went like this:

ME: (Shakily) Hello?

KINDLY VOICE: Hello? Is this Austin Savage?

ME: (Equally frightened/hopeful) Yes.

KINDLY VOICE: This is Chuck Smith.

ME: (Trying to play it cool after immediately recognizing the name thanks to online research leading up to my application essay, including this clip.) How are you doing, sir?

KINDLY VOICE: I’m doing fine. I was calling to see if you were still interested in working on The Good Negro. Are you still interested?

ME: (Scrooge-on-Christmas-morning-giddy) Yes, sir! Absolutely! Yes, very much, most interested. Definitely interested, sir. Uh...yes. Thank you, sir.

KINDLY VOICE: You don’t have to call me “sir.” Just call me Chuck.

ME: (Afraid of already blowing it) Sorry, sir...Chuck! Sorry Chuck.

KINDLY VOICE: Alright, I’ll let them know and we’ll get all the arrangements taken care of. You should get your contract soon and I look forward to meeting to you.

ME: (Officially catatonic) Me too.

KINDLY VOICE: Take care.

ME: Me too.

That was it. In less than one minute I was going to be working at the Goodman. (I had actually interviewed for an internship at the Goodman this past fall. I got the call about the interview while working at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and I flew back home, then hopped into a rental car with my girlfriend the next day to make the 24-hour drive to the Goodman for the interview. I didn’t get that gig, but karma and work ethic eventually get you where you want to go!)

Unfortunately, there was no one around to immediately share the good news with, so I just jumped around the room like Tommy Lasorda after Gibby’s homer in ’88 (for those of you who don’t know or have forgotten, check out the 9:15 mark).

We are nearly two weeks in to our rehearsal process, but that abundant enthusiasm has still not left me—I’m at one of the greatest theaters in the world with an incredible director, talented cast and incredibly talented playwright! As required by the SD&C I am “observing this process in order to further develop myself as an emerging young professional.” So far, Goodman Theatre has held true to its claim that it is “what great theater should be.” It’s hard not to be continually excited when you find yourself surrounded by intelligence, inspiration and artistic sincerity on a daily basis, and it is my hope that I can take these lessons learned here and apply them to my own start up theater company back home.

I am thankful for the opportunity provided to me through The Good Negro and I hope to share the journey with you in further posts.

Take care!
Austin Savage

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