This roller coaster was conceived by me, myself, and I.

Of this rollercoaster I am the architect, controller, and rider all at the same time. It’s climbs and drops, twists, turns, and array of loops are all my doing. If this rollercoaster had a name it would be called: Dawn’s Death Defying Relationship With The Opinions of Others (it’s a long name, I know), for short I’ll call it “The Opinions.”

I ride my latest version of “The Opinions” every time I finish a show. I ride it ad nauseam when the show I finish is an original of mine. I have been riding “The Opinions” ever since (on) WHATIPU closed. This particular coaster has an amazing Lift Hill. That climb was built by the process of the show, a process that I will always cherish. A process that was full of generosity and collaboration, that was inclusive and egoless; a gift. I climbed high on that process.

This rollercoaster also has quite the anticipation factor, the hang before that First Drop, that suspension in time that I refer to as “The Production.” It’s such a vulnerable and charged space. It’s full of the adrenaline of performing, that precarious safety of living the show, breathing it, doing your best to savor and honor the process that brought you to that performance pinnacle; and in anxiety raising contrast it is also the space in which you wonder about the responses. The space in which you are forced to consider the impact (or lack thereof) of your work each night, in real time, as you watch the audience leave; as your friends hug you hard or can’t meet your eyes…after that final bow on that final night you enter, I enter, the Free Fall. However, bare in mind that “The Opinions” was build in memorandum to an original work and so watch out! There isn’t just a Free Fall but also a Double Down Drop. After being on many of my coasters I know to expect it but that doesn’t mean I manage to keep my heart out of my throat or off my sleeve.

As for the rest of this coaster: the Banks (the reviews), the Barrel Rolls (the feedback/conversations), Bunny Hops (avoided conversations), Corkscrews (“suggestions”), Heartline Rolls (self-doubt), Helix’s (post-show career assessment), Immelmann Rolls (artistic existential crises), Inversions (getting offended/choosing to not take offense), and Turnarounds (complete assessment and inventory of how I do things and the agonizing examination of process vs product)…well it all comes at me with an impressive self generated G-force that keeps me securely trapped in my seat wondering when I will allow this particular ride to arrive at the Dead Spot.

It’s a harrowing ride and I won’t ask you to bare it with me for long, but I want to share that in the past week and some days I have been stuck at the Turnaround. I can’t work out if there is something to learn from the opinions of others in regards to: myself as an artist, to how Navi does things, to what kind of theatre and community that I crave to be involved with, or if I should just listen to my own damn gut on all of this. Does “Dawn’s Death Defying Relationship With The Opinions of Others” exist because I don’t trust myself as an artist- If so, why don’t I? Because I have internalized the criticism that I am too self-involved to create rides that others will appreciate- is there evidence to this? Because I’ve given my peers more authority then I give myself- why don’t I back myself? Because I perversely practice humbleness by valuing other practitioners voices more the mine? Or does it exist because somewhere deep inside of me I recognize the need for the opportunity to hear myself scream and whoop and yell and holler above the mob like buzz of those making their way to their own rollercoasters? If I just ride the ride for what it is will I finally hit the Dead Spot and exit exhilarated and relieved? What does it cost me, will it cost me, to just ride once and move on to my own Death Defying Opinions?