A number of my fellow puppeteers on facebook have been commenting on, and posting about, their rejection letters from Sesame Workshop today. A couple months back there was an open call for people to submit videos to apply to be picked to go to NYC to do a workshop with Sesame Street puppeteers. It is a thing they do every few years, and though it is officially not an audition for a job, it is also known that they (and Henson) will use this sort of thing as a way of getting people on their radar that might warrant a job later on so there’s at least a little unspoken remorse on missed opportunity.
I, thinking “why not”, also put together an audition video and submitted it before the deadline. Like my friends, I received a rejection letter in my e-mail today. Now for most of them it is “no big deal” because they are professional puppeteers and while it would have been cool, it’s not killing them. Likewise for me it’s no big deal because I am in no position to leave my current job not in the arts (where I’ve the stability, and pay, necessary to care for my family), though it would have been a hell of a lot of fun to get to play with the big kids for a few days. I looked at it as a chance to improve by learning from some of the best.
While most of us have reasons that it’s not breaking our hearts that we weren’t selected, I also recognize that most of us are probably (though maybe this is me projecting my own thoughts on others) somewhat a bit bummed that we didn’t get this little validation that we were on the right path and had something to offer in this realm. Not being selected doesn’t mean we don’t have something to offer, and it doesn’t even mean we’re not good at what we do, it just means we didn’t get that little bit of validation.
I’m sure we will all keep making the stuff we enjoy making, and doing the things we enjoy doing, but I wonder A) how to give that little validation to make it easier to keep going on the rough days, and B) how to get it. It means a lot to me when a puppeteer I respect says “that thing you made was good”. I also fully admit that I enjoy the validation offered by a little applause, or laughter, and that it is one of the reasons I enjoy performing live every few months.