Monday, September 24, 2007

What Would MacGyver Do

Technical Direction and MacGyver. Definitely a connection. Which is why I recently picked up a book called “What Would MacGyver Do” by Brendan Vaughan. The book’s concept is interesting – a collection of short stories about how real people got through real situations with MacGyver like skill. The book, however, was at best mediocre. A few stories were genuinely inventive and worthy of the title, others not so much. The plus is that it reads fast and is mildly entertaining (I actually enjoyed the snippets at the end of each story better than some of the stories). After all, I did manage to read the whole thing.

I was thinking though it would be cool to do a theatrical version of the book though- then at least you would have a group of resourceful people would are often in tight situations with limited resources. The book could even result in being an actual technical resource like the tech briefs. Alright so perhaps the expectation is a little high. Nevertheless, MacGyver like skill has real value in technical direction. I have been asked in the middle of interviews how my “MacGyver skills” are. When you are in the middle of an offsite load-in and something happens and you have x, y and z to make it work, its good to have the flexibility in thought to make something work (of course keeping it safe).

At the same time, my philosophy has always been to 1 – thoroughly plan out what you are doing to eliminate chances that you will need to pull off a MacGyver stunt, and 2 – plan out the tools and resources that you have on a project so that you will have useful things to work with when the inevitable snag occurs. Nevertheless, I have to admit that the ability to problem solve and to think flexibly and adaptable to the situation are needed skills, and skills that don’t seem to be as common as they used to be. More and more there seems to be a mentality of “you can only do it this way”, and that if you don’t have the 1 tool, or the one favored material a job is impossible. And since theatre in general has lots of scarce resources, the more flexible and adaptable you can be the better you will serve. To me, there isn’t one way to do anything. There are better ways and worse ways. Ways that I will tend to think of first because of my experiences, and methods, that I will tend to not think of due to the same.

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