I’ve been having a creative crisis, a loss of faith. I must admit that at the age of 36 I am lucky to never have experienced this before. Being an independent theatre maker is incredibly stressful and takes emotional fortitude as well as a multitude of skills both creative and practical.
Theatre has been the biggest joy in my life since I was 9 years old. It has been my only career choice since I was 12. When I directed my first show at university it felt like every thing clicked into place. THIS was what I was supposed to be doing. Since that time my sole focus in life professionally has been to direct theatre and be recognised as a professional theatre maker. My drive has been immense. It has trampled romantic relationships, it has weathered the crappy retail jobs and been my constant companion through sever mental illness and homelessness.
There is a unpleasant side to my creativity, my ego. Ego tries to take over, it feeds jealousy of others creative achievements, it makes me bitter and it tells me my success lays in being recognised by “important people” and securing jobs at the “major companies”. Ego whips me into a frenzy in the middle of the night worrying over the possible results of grants and programming submissions. It takes what was once a labor of love and transforms it into a heavy mantle on my shoulders until I fear I will collapse under it.
That’s where I have been this January. I’ve questioned if I really want to keep doing this hard, hard work. It’s made me feel desperate to grasp at any opportunity that might move me forward to “success” and fearful my whole year of plans will fall a part.
Yesterday was hard. I suspected someone was stealing a significant opportunity from me. I felt devastated and I sent an SMS to a good friend and fellow artist saying “I feel like throwing in the towel”. If it’s one thing I have learnt over the years it is REACH OUT. No matter how alone I feel, I’m actually not. She responded saying “No! We will help each other through it. It will be OK”.
After than something in me shifted. I realised I had lost sight of why I make theatre. Why I work so hard. It’s because I love it. It’s because the act of creation fills me with joy and wonder. Because making theatre is how I examine and better understand the world we live in. It’s because I love sharing what I have made with YOU.
Returning to the core of who I am as an artist allows me to free myself. If I spend the rest of my life making little, self-funded shows that connect to little audiences, that is enough. When I remember why I make theatre I release the pressure to succeed and make space to create. Most importantly I find peace.