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General Dispatches from The Groundlings, Part 2


From time to time, Miss Dorien Davies will be allowing us a secret glimpse into her life as she takes the Advanced level course at The Groundlings. This is her second dispatch. The first can be found here.

Call it dedication, delusion, or perhaps even a smige of self loathing. I'm not sure.

What would you call someone who goes to her six-hour Groundlings Advanced class despite having woken up at four 'o clock in the morning, sweating and shaking, with a fever of 102? (And let me just preface this by telling you that I'm still fighting whatever horrid virus has taken up residence in my body, so my rationale is not completely reliable.) I'm calling it dedication, people!

After a week of writing and preparing for last Sunday's class I was going to be dammed if anything was going to stop me from putting up my new material. I had four new co-writes and two new solo-writes that I thought definitely had some kind of legs, at least enough to grant me some kudos and a handful of rewrites. But the thing is, with Groundlings, even if something is pretty good, all you hear about is what needs to be changed and worked on. Our accolades will come from our performances, not from our teachers. Our teacher's job is to make our material the best it can be, not to kiss our boo boos.

One of my favorite sketches, of the forty that went up on Sunday, was written by some friends of mine. It was an adorable piece about a woman at work who finds love in the arms of the Sparklets man. It was a silent piece, all set to music and made me, for a moment, forget I was so sick. And then my teacher then gave them ten minutes of notes. By the time they were done, they had no idea that the sketch had killed. All they knew was that they had a lot of work to do on it.

The day was tough for me too. Some of my sketches were too similar to other people's, and some were just not funny. "It's cute," said my teacher, "but it's not funny." I also got a, "so what is this scene about?" I ended up with three "if you want to" rewrites and three hearty "NO!"s. Which is actually not that bad.

A rewrite means that there is something that our teacher liked, and if executed well, could be considered for the show. I have eight now total, which is more than some people in my class have written all together. But compounded with the fluish feelings of someone slowly cutting off my oxygen supply to my head, I found myself wanting to cry, more than once. I knew I wasn't going to get any sympathy from class because most of them felt the same way and they weren't even sick, so I waited until I got to the car. Then I went home and fell asleep. I dreamed of character arcs and black out lines. And when I woke up, on Monday afternoon, I started thinking about sketch ideas.

Call it what you will, but next Sunday, I'm taking my dedicated delusion and going back to that theater and putting up six new pieces dammit!

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