I am in a very lucky group of people who can say that they count Patricia Troxel as not simply an influence, but a teacher, comrade, and mentor. She was our treasure trove of knowledge, our “Troxicon” as we often described her. Still, she was so much more.
Patricia taught me a single lesson and ingrained it so deep into my mind I will never, never be able to imagine a time when I didn’t realize its truth. It is a practical “yes, and”. For those who have studied improv this idiom is old hat, tired and cliche. But when Patrica was in the Directors chair, the ideal “yes, and” takes on qualities, that in my memory, seem almost mythical.
Patricia’s ability to take any, any, actors take on a character and roll with it, never negating it, always picking the bit best suited to the over all whole, and highlighting it, thus, moving the actor in a different direction by supporting them, is still to this day a revelation in my thoughts on directing.
It seems simple doesn’t it; the principle of affirmation? But, not before Patricia, and never since, have I ever encountered a director who had the deftness to carry it out so fully in practice. It is indeed a rare gift. It has been said before by so many others who knew and loved her, that her ability to raise one up with her knowledge, instead of our all too common experience of those who know more beating us down, was her central gift in life. Despite her being a Princeton PhD (her German was crap, as she joked to my class) she never lorded her knowledge above anyone. She was far too generous for that. You always walked out of a room smarter for having spent time with her in it.
I count it as one of the absurdities of my life; that I should encounter such a woman outside the wealthy ivy lined walls of other schools. My next thought being, very few Ivy lined schools could have contained Patrica, much less the tried and true, brilliant talents that taught me my art along side her.
I am one of the happy few that knew her. Yet the rest of the world languishes in ignorance of her. So, to all those of you who did know her, I exhort you to further her ideal. In furtherance of that I highlight these 3 things she embedded in me. (You may add as you see fit.)
Nothing in art is “wrong” per se. Everything can be amended.
Generosity is the heart of collaboration. Yes, and; First, second, and again.
Knowledge is power: Power to raise everyone up.
If I ever direct in my lifetime, I will hope to reach her example of how a director should treat their actors. But never will I reach her perfect example of Principle and Practice in art.
Patricia, you were too rare.