The Chalk Circle Experience

posted by Nick Childress, cast member of The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Nick Childress is a member of the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program class of 2010 and a member of the cast of John Doyle’s production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Nick writes about his experience rehearsing Brecht's play for the A.C.T. mainstage.

When I found out that I was cast in The Caucasian Chalk Circle, I immediately shot up to cloud nine and spent weeks up there. Then one day a fellow cast member told me, “You’re going to have a lot of fun.” Now I am blessed to be a member of the M.F.A. Program, which I am very proud of. But I am also coming to the end of three years of having every ounce of work I have done be watched and commented on by a whole lotta faculty members, staff, and peers. So, needless to say, “Fun” is not often a word in my daily vocabulary when it comes to the rehearsal process.

“What? That cannot be right,” I thought to myself. I know what fun is. I mean, I’m 25. TRUST ME, I know how to have FUN. And my idea of Fun isn’t exactly what I equate with the pressure of developing stories in a medium where everyone has an opinion. Now don’t get me wrong, this is an enjoyable profession. But it’s also a job, and people don’t have “Fun” at work. Right? That just doesn’t happen . . . And then I went into rehearsal with John Doyle, Domenique Lozano, the rest of the Chalk Circle creative team, our fantastic stage management team, and this AMAZING CAST and realized that I’ve been incredibly wrong.

What’s interesting is that I have not had this much “Fun” since I was a little kid hopping around the living room in a pillow case dancing to the Monkees. What’s also interesting is that the work I see being done on a daily basis is not only really good, but it’s inspiring for the sheer fact that there is so much creative joy in the room. John Doyle is like a walking artistic bomb shelter: he keeps all of the pressure and danger out of the room, while keeping the good vibes along with the joys of creativity in the room. And the process is efficient, effective, and productive with minimal stress.

Story and the show aside, The Caucasian Chalk Circle experience has taught me that there isn’t anything wrong with having true Fun in the workplace at all. In fact, it makes going to work a breath of fresh air, and it is something I am glad I learned so young and hope I will never forget.

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