The 10s and Making Your Own Criteria of Success
I wanted to take a moment to write a little bit about the 10s. My first 8 years as a professional writer. There's been a movement on twitter where people have shared their CVs over the decade which, I think, is very empowering to mark how far people have come and overcome personal and social challenges... But I wanted to reflect on the 10s from a slightly different perspective. A lot of people have marked out illustratious moments in their career to mark how far they've come which is all well and good but I can't help to feel that having a homogenous idea of success isn't useful to the purpose of Art or our own persuit of happiness. The more we buy into the idea that every artist should have the same goal the more we negate the personal and private motivations for Art making and the actual tangible effects Art can have on people, communities and places.
For the sake of our own mental health, self esteem and worth as an Artist we need to remind ourselves that we cannot ever have self esteem as Artists if we live by other peoples ambitions. We will never make the most "us" work that is the more impactful and purposeful if we are trying to achieve arbitary goals that are inherited to us by a generation of Artists that are about to die. It is up to us to say what we find it is important, what our cause is, what our objective is... and why these things are in accordance. We must then try and dedicate our artistic energy to working towards those goals. If we can do that then we can be happy that our labour is being purposefully spent - this is more important to our happiness than arbitary goals. Adventures are only adventures if there is a goal at the end of them... Other wise we're just lost.
I have been very lucky in the tens; I have made work with Young People with 20 Stories High, The Almeida, The National Youth Theatre, The Young Vic, The National Theatre... I have made community shows with Men, Refugess, Men in Prisons... I've made straight plays and musicals at The Hampstead, Soho Theatre, Bush Theatre, Young Vic, The Nuffield, Live Theatre, Leeds Playhouse, Hull Truck, HighTide and Northern Stage and I've found my tribe in Middle Child and Not Too Tame to achieve my personal goals... I've toured to village halls, pubs, clubs, music venues... I have been very fortunate to meet collaborators who have the same vision for theatre as me... But none of these projects have come about with the goal of working at any of these buildings or with these companies. I have been on year long attachments at Soho Theatre and Liverpool Everyman Playhouse and wrote unproduced plays for both of them because I was trying to second guess what they wanted. I had the goal of trying to get a play on and not ask the fundamental questions of "why me", "why here", "what change do I want to see", "who am I"... You will always fail if you try and guess someone elses taste - the only way you can be an artists is to be who you are, fully you, with a purpose. By extension; you cannot ever be happy if you're trying to live by someone elses idea of happiness and success. That's what I've learned from my work in the tens: be you, with your tribe, for a reason and no one can tell you you don't have a voice and you're not worth listening to. That's the way to self esteem - if you lay down your own criteria for suc ess and happiness. That's how you grow into you and not try and copy a dying idea of Art.
Moving forward I hope we see, in 2020 and beyond, Theatre that's goal is to be for everyone; from the work programmed to forms they find to the spaces they occupy to the stories we need to hear to progress. I hope that Artists can unite in support for each other and be a union not a rat race. Artists don't need to be competitive if we are truly ourselves and want to listen to each other speak.