the day to day of a professional actor in the San Francisco Bay Area

mostly the day to day of a professional actor in the San Francisco Bay Area, but also the home of the Counting Actors Project

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Books I'm Reading

Give and Take by Adam Grant is subtitled 'A revolutionary approach to success' - I became interested in the book after reading about Grant in the NY Times.  Grant is a professor at The Wharton School and has done extensive research on people's relationship, networking, negotiation and leadership styles, and found that in our interactions with others, people tend to operate as either givers, takers or matchers.  And while some givers burn out, many incredibly successful people in many fields are also givers. 

This book highlights the key differences between burning out and achieving success, and has introduced me to some of my new favorite concepts:

1) pronoia - it's the opposite of paranoia and can be defined as "the delusionial belief that other people are plotting your well-being or saying nice things about you behind your back" - sounds like a great attitude to bring into any casting situation to me.

2) expeditional behavior, a term from the National Outdoor Leadership School, which trains NASA astronauts, among others, and means putting the group's goals and missions first and showing the same amount of concern for others as you do for yourself.  This is the exact name for what I'm trying to cultivate in any group of students who are working on a show together - we put the play and the story we are trying to tell first. 

There's even more interesting and helpful thinking in this book - ideas about how to process the successes of peers or co-workers, and lots of ideas about networking and cultivating relationships - two big keys for any theater professional.

On a totally different track, for theatermakers and others who want an in depth look at the women of the War of the Roses, Blood Sisters by Sarah Gristwood shines a light on the lives of Marguerite of Anjou (the wife of Henry VI), Elizabeth of York (mother of the 'Princes in the Tower') and 5 other women from both Team York and Team Lancaster.  If you're heading into production on a Shakespeare history play, learning more about the details of the day to day lives of these women and how they leveraged their limited power in their relationships with powerful men is pretty fascinating reading.

I'm also very excited about a project that is coming up at the end of June.  I'm part of an event that will not only showcase approximately 30 women theater artists, the majority of them members of Actors' Equity, but will also raise money for a non-profit called SF Safehouse, who provide 18 months of housing as well as lots of other varied support and resources for homeless women leaving prostitution.  The public portion of the event is an evening of short original plays, and takes place on Monday June 24th.  Ticket info is here and you can also find event details on Facebook

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