Saturday, 10 March 2012

On loneliness #2 - making a solo show

So, I've just spent the best part of two weeks writing applications for two different artist support schemes with two very different timelines. It's been a fascinating, and if I am honest bloody painful, process. This is all new to me: deciding all by myself what my piece will be, what my intentions are, who I want to work with and how I am going to achieve all (any) of it.

And everyone keeps telling me not to be in a room on my own. I've just read this blog and there was a session about this kind of thing at Devoted & Disgruntled during which time I made the mistake of saying, "But surely it's just like playing on your own when you were a kid which I did a lot of the time and was fine. Why can't you approach making work as a game. Or use games to free up your mind a little and get you in to the right head space?" (I'm paraphrasing here) and I was met with silence... You'll notice it is not included in the report. It made perfect sense to me but apparently not to many others. Though afterwards one woman came up to me and said, "I completely agree with you." Made my whole day. But I digress...

I'm not arguing with the people who say don't be alone in the rehearsal space. Some of the people who have said this to me are far more experience than I am and I don't doubt their opinion but I find myself wondering how one makes a solo performance about loneliness without going through a few difficult days alone in a rehearsal room? It kind of feels like that is the point. And I almost WANT it. Does that make me a masochist? Maybe, but I have found myself looking forward to putting myself in a room and seeing how I cope.

There are certain things I expect. I KNOW I am a world class procrastinator. I know that I will need to switch off the internet and my phone and put a ban on Twitter (which has to be the best work avoidance tool ever) unless I go online for something very specific.

Whether or not I am successful in gaining the support I have applied for I am going to get some time in a room. Not totally alone. Maybe I'll alternate days but I think the first day I HAVE to be alone. What I will take in to the space with me is some tools. Games to play, music to listen to, big sheets of paper to make lists on, some pre-set tasks and perhaps my favourite suggestion from the properly lovely Laura Mugridge I'm going to create a happy, silly dance to break the mood. When Laura said it a light bulb went off in my head. It made perfect sense to me. When Ellie and I were making The Reservation we watched Great Day by The Lonely Island repeatedly as an antidote to all the grief.

So, I won't really be alone at all. I will be there with an army of collaborators. Just not, you know, physically.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Devoted and Disgruntled (with myself)

I've spent a lot of time this week beating myself up for not being over the moon about Devoted & Disgruntled last week. I've been meaning to write about it but... I should probably read that report on procrastination huh?

Day 1
I'm glad I went, of course, I'd never been to the London one before and I had been looking forward to it for ages. Saturday was thrilling - the sense of the unknown, catching up with old friends, getting a sense of who was in the room and the beginnings of some great conversations. I'm particularly excited about the D & D Roadshow which will be arriving in Leeds in October as I was feeling a little immobilised by being in London.

Day 2
For whatever reason on the Sunday I found myself wandering aimlessly, frustrated by the idea of talking more and doing less. I had a lot on my mind, things I wanted to do. Good things. Creative things. What I didn't want to do was talk.

So I took myself to one side where I found myself in a one to one conversation with a friend. And I talked. Really talked. She already knew about the difficulties I had had a couple of years previously with a collaborator/friend and how painful the (for all intents and purposes) 'break-up' had been. What I hadn't realised was the residual guilt and grief I was still carrying from that experience. Perhaps this was exacerbated by starting my day in a session called Working With Dickheads in which someone talked about a poor working relationship. The group sensitively shared bad experiences and there was an air of gentle support and understanding. We are not alone. But perhaps we have an obligation to those who come after us to challenge this behaviour? I followed this up with a session on Professional/ Social Relationships foolishly thinking this might be a session looking at how social media blurs these lines and perhaps they got there eventually but they started with looking at how we work with friends and how we maintain professionalism in the face of changing distinctions and boundaries. It was all a little close to home. And it affected me.

To take the principles of Open Space literally (for anyone not familiar with the Open Space Technology and 5 main principles you can read about those here) perhaps the best thing I can do is to accept that this was the only thing that could have happened. That I was meant to have that conversation and maybe THAT is what I really needed to get out of this experience. 

The law of two feet told me to walk, to go home but another friend told me to stay. She didn't want my experience to end on a bad note. Am I glad I stayed? Yes and no. Tassos Stevens gave us a A Surprise and the conversations in the pub afterwards were somewhat useful. Overwhelmingly what I felt was a push to make decisions, to take actions. With my art, with my life. I spent alot of time this weekend defining who I am, what I do, what I WANT to do/be.

But honestly I'm not ready. I have an ideal sure but I am still taking baby steps towards that. I AM devoted but...

I apologise that this all feels like an incomplete thought. It is.