Happy New Year!  Is your resolution already out the window?  Are you already feeling the heart palpitations and shortness of breath, which signal the panic attack of APAP?  For many of us involved in contemporary performance, January is atonement.  We feel so guilty for having taken a little time off at the end of one year, that we make up for it by cramming as much work as possible into the first three weeks of the next year.  We do our best to ensure that, by February, the holidays seem like a distant mirage.

Are we just a messed up crowd of workaholics?  Is there hope for us?  Yes and yes.  We are a bunch of workaholics, and that has – in some measure – benefited us, and our field.  We push ourselves.  We are inspired by each other.  We push ourselves more.  We are jealous of each other.  We push ourselves more.  This can lead to breakthroughs of innovation, but it can also lead to bitterness and burnout.  But, (here’s where the hope comes in), we can also inspire each other to greater balance.

Which brings me to the 2011 Challenge: Take Breaks.  Yes, you.  Stop every now and then.  Take a week off from seeing shows.  (Scandal!)  Take a month off before starting your next project.  (Impossible!)  Eat dinner with your friends and don’t rush to make a curtain.  (Unheard of!)  Read a book made out of paper.  (What’s that?!)  Watch those Netflix that have been staring at you for weeks.  (You too?!)

Take breaks from performance and tell your friends that you’re doing it.  Don’t hide your brave inactivity, or mask it with a fake stomach flu.  Trumpet your victory over the inertia, and together we can inch our way back to a more human pace: a pace that might just give us a chance to actually enjoy the next performance and perhaps even think about it a bit afterwards.

Hey, it’s a New Year – anything is possible, right?

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