A leap of faith. The pleasure of mentoring professional performers.
Recently I had the pleasure, honour, of mentoring Nina Reisinger (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the creation of her new street theatre show.
Nina wanted to create a static piece this time. She has been working as a walkabout artist for a decade now. The new show had been in her heart for a few years.
She had even had publicity photos done, but had not moved from ideas to actually creating a piece.
We worked together at a street arts festival in Northern Germany. On one of the days three different groups of artists were bused across the border to Poland where we each performed on the promenade for the beautifully playful polish crowds.
Nina must have liked what she saw in my foolish french character clown, Joseph D’Amour Bouffon, for a few weeks later I received an email asking if I helped people create.
Being a trained teacher, teacher trainer and mentor I of course replied in the affirmative. I love helping people of all ages learn. I find the buzz from this work as strong as, and possibly more profound than, performing. In schools, workshops, festivals and solo.
It is a nerve wracking experience for the mentor as well as the mentee. For Nina she had only seen me perform a couple of times. And we had had a connection of artistic souls while working together. Nina put her faith in this and agreed to part with some of her hard earned cash to come to the UK and work with me, a comparative stranger.
From my side I knew nothing of what Nina had in mind, and I was set up as the guy who was going to help her realise a dream. A personal dream is wonderful when realised, but deeply perturbing when not so…
We both took the leap of faith. Every creation holds a leap of faith.
Mixed emotions: I was confident in my past as a teacher and mentor. I have been told on a number of occassions that I have inspired people. But I was also nervous…would I be what she wanted as a mentor? Would I connect with the ideas she had thus far? Would we arrive at an impass?
The hall was booked and the date of Nina’s arrival approached.
Nina is a professional. She listened to feedback intently, and worked on it hard; really hard. So the progress was surprisingly fast. After a run through I would suggest a point. By the end of the next work session that feedback was chewed up and thoroughly digested. So on we roared to the next point. It was a fast and furious, energising and draining experience. Within three days we had a show which now needed an audience! My work for this stage of the process was done. And I could see from the light in Nina’s eyes that she was happy.
What we ended up creating is a quirky, personal, skill filled, funny and touching piece of street theatre. A piece which jumps beyond the generic. A piece which will keep Nina busy and feed her heart and soul for some time to come.
What have I taken from this experience? Both Nina and I took leaps of faith; in our own and in each other’s skills and experience.
Here is my tip. Its simple. Take the leap of faith. Do your best. And the likelihood is you will deliver something of quality.
Nina got a new and original show. I got the warm glow from having truly helped someone realise a dream.
We both got a friend.