The Two-Week Workshop: or, Tech Week x2

Some people have never done an intensive certification workshop before, so here’s a head’s up. A two-week intensive is like Tech Week in a theatre, except two consecutive weeks of it. As such, it is an excellent “proving ground” for the professional working world. If you can survive these two weeks, you can survive just about anything that will be thrown at you. You will rarely be as thoroughly challenged as you will be at an intensive. I have a colleague who, when faced with a casting decision regarding fights, will sooner hire the person who has done a two-week intensive over one who has done their certification in a long-term setting. You will rarely be physically and mentally strained as much as you will be at this kind of workshop. Therefore, part of your task at this workshop, beyond learning quality stage combat and having a great time, is to develop strategies for working at your optimum levels, even when you are physically and mentally stretched to the limit.

In case you don’t already know, the FDC Nationals has almost a 12-hour day with appropriate breaks: 9 am to 8:40 pm. Advanced is receiving instruction all day, Intermediates usually have one rehearsal period, and Basics, you usually have two rehearsal periods. I say “usually” because there are often enrichment or “taster” classes booked into one of those “free periods”. All this to say, your time is tightly packed.

I’ve mentioned some of this before, or will mention it in upcoming posts, but here is a few things to think about:

  • Plan your nutrition. Drink water. Replace your electrolytes. You won’t have time to think about it during the workshop.
  • Bring a notebook and write everything down. There will be times when your brain fails you. You may even forget how to walk. I have seen it happen. Bring a folder, binder or duotang, too. There will be handouts.
  • Know what your brain needs for rest. Do you need alone time? Meditation? Gaming? Socializing with your classmates? A phone call with family or friends? Everyone is different, so do what’s right for you to keep yourself in optimum condition.
  • Know what your body needs. Rest is a given, but do you relax with a swim? yoga? run? bath? sauna? I myself will be looking to make time and room in the budget to go here.
  • Tie up loose ends. Pay the bills, and tell any non-essential communication that you’ll get to it after the workshop is done. You will not have time for other things during the workshop. In fact, you’ll probably feel like there’s not enough time for the workshop itself, much less taking care of your daily life.
  • Scents. We will be in very close quarters. Some people have sensitive noses, others have allergies. Please be mindful regarding how much scent you use. Lots of deodorant, and very little or no perfumes and colognes is a good plan. Also, I’m a meat-eater and a coffee drinker: mints and/or a travel toothbrush are essential for making sure my breath is inoffensive. Good hygiene is part of professionalism.

Speaking of which, please remember that this is a professional development workshop. Yes we are having fun, lots of it, and the workshop is best when you are! However, the in-class work is your priority. To be clear, think of the classes like a rehearsal. The first priority is getting the work done, but in the best of cases, we have a great time doing it. To foster a good working environment, show up on time, be ready to commit yourself to the day’s activity and earn your classmates’ trust. For most people, the following doesn’t need to be said, but just in case, this also means:

  • Please dress appropriately. Be prepared to move. Also, be mindful of what you’re wearing. In the interests of fostering an environment we are all comfortable in, Ladies and Gentlemen (and everyone in between), you may want to think twice about wearing your “Federal Boob Inspector” shirt or your jogging pants with “Spanks” across the butt. Just like going in for a job inteview or going out to dinner, there’s an appropriate kind of clothing in a workshop environment. Let’s keep it professional.
  • Be on time and ready to work. What you do on your own time is your own business, but do not come into class hung over. It is not safe, and it is disrespectful to the time and efforts of your classmates.

The other day, Jackie Holloway posted a fantastic piece on preparing for a workshop. What I’ve written above is mostly preparation, Jackie’s post — intelligently and humorously written, I must say — has excellent information on etiquette and common sense.  You should read it. http://jacquelineannholloway.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/preparing-for-nationals/

Last week’s posts were all physical. This week we’ll bring in more mental preparation, and talk a little bit about what to expect.

The original plan was to keep posting throughout the workshop. However, auditions, grant reports and gigs (I’m not complaining!) have made it difficult to get far enough ahead to make that feasible.  Sooooooo, I’m not sure yet how long I’ll be able to continue the daily posting. Please note that I have scheduled the posts to automatically publish at 2 am Mountain Time (the time zone of the FDC Nationals 2014), so that it’ll be up in ample time for people to read them before class during the workshop.  It also happens to conveniently publish at 10 am Linköping time, where the Nordic Stage Fight Summer Workshop is being held, so that it can be read there at fika. So, I am hoping to continue posting during the workshops but I will evaluate the situation as it unfolds.

Thanks for reading!

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