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Theatre Aspen Apprentice Blog: Stage Management Apprentice Meghan Winter

June 21, 2018

LIVING THE DREAM: A MINDSET, NOT A MANTRA

by Meghan Winter, Stage Management Apprentice

On my second-ever scuba diving vacation with my family, I hopped aboard a boat that belonged to a dive company called Living the Dream Divers. Not only was the name a unique one, but every dive master, boat crew member, and dive tank slinger I greeted with a “how’s it going?” would respond “living the dream”. At first, it was funny and quirky; it’s like a form of advertising, I thought. But the more time I spent aboard the boat, the more I came to realize they weren’t just saying the catchphrase. They actually meant it. And it was easy to understand why: these dive masters lived on a beautiful tropical island and dove  into its gorgeous, crystal-clear blue waters at least twice a day. During my brief visit to their dazzling paradise, I started to parrot this slogan back to them. However, this wasn’t a mantra that I felt could exist outside this perfect world of cerulean waters and sandy beaches, so the saying of “living the dream” faded to the back of my brain, forgotten.

Now you may be wondering, what on earth does a scuba diving company name have to do with my summer at Theatre Aspen, or theatre in general? Let me give you a roundabout answer: theatre kids spend their entire careers being asked, “what is the dream?” At first, they respond with something spectacular: imagine dazzling lights, sparkly costumes, think A Chorus Line finale kickline. As time goes on though, the responses become more practical, seemingly more achievable and more career-oriented. We start to equate the question with goals instead of dreams. “What is the dream?” garners an answer regarding the end goal of our careers, such as landing the Production Stage Manager job at a regional theater. Sometimes I forget the reason I pursued theatre as a career. What is my dream?

Three weeks ago, rehearsals for Theatre Aspen’s Ragtime began, and now we’ve moved into the theatre (also known as the Tent). Somehow the entire musical was staged in two weeks; no small feat for a long show with as many moving parts as Ragtime. With such a short rehearsal process there can be some long days of constantly moving people, props and furniture. These days can have some tough moments: how do we fit all the large furniture pieces into the rehearsal hall? When do we rotate the furniture so it’s ready for the next scene? How do we accomplish this transition when several feet of upstage space is missing? All of these challenges disappear when the hair on my arms rise, goosebumps scatter across my skin, the back of my head tingles and my chest fills. I look toward our taped-out stage and--seeing the passion portrayed in “The Night That Goldman Spoke At Union Square”, the emotion evoked in the Act 1 finale, the joy in “Gliding”--I realize that I am living the dream.

In that moment, another revelation hits me: “living the dream” is a mindset, not a mantra. Even in the difficult moments, I am still living the dream. The challenging moments lead to scenes that ignite passion, excitement and adrenaline in me. I’m making art with Theatre Aspen and that is the dream.