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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Cartographer's Process: Illuminating the Path through Tonight We Improvise

  • Author(s): Kennedy, Zachary
  • Advisor(s): Porter, Lisa
  • et al.

My leadership strategy on Tonight We Improvise was engaging radical empathy, advocacy, and the willingness to welcome the unknown. I envision this leadership style as cartography, mapping the path and walking into the liminal space with my collaborators. I illuminated the path through the uncertainty and guided the production with equanimity. Pirandello writes in Tonight We Improvise, "the play ceases to exist as soon as it comes into being." I compare this idea to my work as the stage manager and cartographer, as soon as the map is drawn it fades back into nothingness, the path only exists in the present. The soul of the play lives in an abstract creative space and in the spirit of the collaborators. I discovered my voice by advocating for the production that cannot complain, ask for help, or speak for itself.

Tonight We Improvise existed in a chaotic and unpredictable space that frequently felt destabilizing. Part of the director's vision was exposing my process from beginning to end, including sitting in the audience to call the show. While playing myself as the stage manager, I felt vulnerable, exposed, and excited to lean into the discomfort. The challenge was thrilling, and there was nowhere to hide. I have evolved into my role as a stage manager during my graduate studies, allowing my intuition and energy to guide me as I lead the group onward. I will continue to find bliss in creating art in liminal space and illuminating the unfolding path.

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