Dreaming of "Perfection"
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Dreaming of "Perfection"

  • Author(s): Gutierrez, Andrew
  • Advisor(s): Porter, Lisa
  • et al.

During the production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I expanded beyond my comfortzone of traditional production and engaged in a pre-recorded project to be debuted online during a global pandemic. While orchestrating this production, a compelling dynamic in the play resonated with me: the relationship between Peter Quince, a new up-and-coming producer, and Bottom, an experienced and seasoned producer and actor. In the play, there are collaborative challenges between these two characters and, after an enormous fiasco, they come together to make a captivating piece of theatre. This relationship reminded me of several rather complex collaborators that I have worked with during my academic career. I connected with the struggle of evaluating relationships, establishing expectations, and regulating heightened emotions. During this production, I learned the essential and lifelong takeaway: adaptation is necessary to grow and perfection is a myth. Adaptation takes many shapes, and for me, it means the shifting of expectations, asking for help, and assessing what is and what isn’t working. After an ardous few days of navigating uncharted waters at the beginning of filming, I discovered that I was holding myself and my collaborators to an unrealistic standard. I believed that we would get through the process with few, if any mistakes due to how much we had prepared. I realized this idea of reaching perfection was unattainable. The realization that I could loosen my grip on my expectations allowed me to ask mentors, friends, and collaborators for help and to rapidly diagnose the situation. Throughout my academic career, I have been taught in predominantly white spaces. I have been considered the “exceptional” BIPOC student, which has caused me to frame my worth around perfection and productivity. In my experience and research, I have found that perfectionism and exceptionalism are ideals perpetrated by White Supremacy and are related to other -isms such as racism and ableism. These ideals held by white-centric education systems (and often imposed on BIPOC students) leave little space for healthy fault or failure. As a result, I was conditioned to believe that failure was not an option. During my time at UCSD, I have found that there truly is no perfect outcome, no perfect collaboration, and no perfect product. What I have found is that there is constant room for growth, learning, and exploration. This production pushed me to thrive in the unknown and rely on the instinctual traits I have been building throughout my life, allowing me the space to fail forward. I have learned that what I do in the imperfect moments, the moments that require adaptation, are the breakthrough insights that lead to growth.

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