Owning Your Craft – Matthew Schott

HeadshotIn working on Refresh: Stories of Love, Sex & The Internet, I’ve shared my work with a lot of people. This has been incredibly useful for me, as I have been able to use lots of critical feedback to mold and shape the piece. This is also the cornerstone of Critical Point Theatre’s model of play-making. The downside to this is that, at a certain point, I try to please everyone and I can lose track of my own vision. The question I struggle with in these final stages of development is: How do I make sure this piece is still mine?

Refresh started out its life looking quite different. The piece was originally called King of Pain (after the song by The Police) and was less of a solo-performance piece about online interactions and more a horribly embarrassing attempt at some kind of non-fiction book. I decided to create it because I had just been dumped and wanted to write down all my thoughts about how sad I was. After telling my story to people over and over, I began to fall in love with the act of telling my story. It was then that I realized I could craft this into a show. The idea sat in my brain for a while until one day when I was talking with Julia Katz about theatre, I offhandedly mentioned that I’d always wanted to do a one-man show about all the girls I’ve ever dated. She instantly gave me the encouragement I needed to turn the idea from pipe-dream into reality, and in thinking about how I’d create the piece, a through-line emerged. I realized every relationship I’d ever been in seemed to be tied to the Internet in some way, shape, or form.1455116_10151785352937344_1543189297_n

As you can see from the genesis of this piece, it’s already changed significantly. And in working with various mentors, it’s only changed more. So with all of these changes, how do I keep track of what my show is supposed to be? How do I maintain a vision? Well the answer to these questions is, unfortunately, I don’t totally know. But what I do know is that this show is the most important thing I’ve ever done and I wont let it slip away from me. It couldn’t if it tried. I have already channeled these questions and frustrations into the show and it feels all the more truthful for it. At the end of the day, this is my story and no one else’s, and when I am standing in front of an audience, all of the questions of “What is this supposed to be?” and “How do I please everyone?” disappear. There’s just me and my story. Me and my pain. And I’ll never feel more at home then how I feel in that moment. 

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