Drama Is A Choice

You may have heard the phrase, “He who yells first, loses.” This is a rule that is often used in beginning acting classes because anger is an easy emotion to go to when faced by the obstacles presented by the other people in your scene or exercise. In order to force the student to explore and exercise all the options available in human interactions, anger is often removed as a choice.

In many instances in real life, this is also the case. Exploding with anger often indicates that a person feels they have lost control of the situation and are trying to reassert control by overwhelming everyone with an exhibition of rage.

Sometimes, people use crying to achieve the same effect. In either case, there is some degree of drama involved.

Seth Godin reminded me of all these things in a recent post where he essentially says people can only process so much drama before a sense of equilibrium is established that allows them to continue to function in the face of it all. (And unfortunately, as we know, if it is a slow news day, people will create a high sense of drama to fill the vacuum.)

The last line is what really drove it home to me.

“But understand that drama is a choice.”

Arts organizations often operate in a sense of crisis and impending doom. It is easy to forget that some of it is of our own making and a result of the way we choose to perceive and process the world around us.

In fact, there was a recent segment on This American Life that dealt with the personal narrative a Bosnia refugee told himself about all the lucky breaks he had received which lead to his current success.

The high school teacher he credits with giving him the one critical break that allowed him to become a renowned economist says his perception of the entire situation and the seminal incident are almost wholly incorrect. However, it isn’t long before he starts to reweave his narrative to support his belief he has benefited from a long series of lucky breaks.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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