Good Things and Bad

So, if you are also friends with me on facebook, you will have been harassed in the last few days to watch the National Theatre of Scotland’s ‘5 Minute Theatre’ event. There were a couple of reasons for this. One, it was a pretty cool event with a wide variety of pieces, some excellent, some not-so-excellent but very interesting, and some just… well… some, just… not to my taste, I guess is the nicest way of putting it.
But, of course, the second reason is that a monologue of mine, performed by me, was also included as part of the event.
I was very excited about being included in the event, I was totally chuffed that I had been chosen by ‘The National Theatre of Scotland’ to be part of it. However, something happened whilst I was watching the pieces on Tuesday night. I started to get very panicky. I started to get very worried. By the time it came to wake up early Wednesday morning and watch my piece be broadcast, I was terrified and majorly depressed.
There are a few things that contributed to this feeling.
Firstly, there was a chat facility, which meant that people could comment on what they were watching online. My piece, if anyone ended up watching it, was kind of ridiculously personal, at least, it was meant to look that way, and I was terrified of these unknown people who might personally attack me for what I had written, and judge me harshly for something that seemed very personal.
Secondly, looking at the other pieces, I was either hugely intimidated by the high quality or work, or insulted by the poor quality. I either thought I was going to look like an idiot compared to the really good stuff, or I was going to be lumped in with the ‘bad stuff’, and my achievement in being involved in the event was not as big a deal as I thought it was.
Thirdly, like all things I manage to create, write, perform etc. I convinced myself that this was ‘my moment’. This was the moment everything was going to fall into place. If I could create a piece of amazing, honest, funny, gut-wrenching theatre, then someone would see it/see me and all my dreams would come true. Whatever that means… cast me in the next West End show, give me lots of money, invite me to glittering social events etc. So, when these things fail to emerge as results of the creation/performance of the piece, then, of course, I view it as a failure.
So, in the end, I couldn’t bear to watch the piece, even though I had it open in my internet browser, and I only briefly glanced at the chat that was going on underneath in the chat window (most of it was about how amazing the piece before mine was… *sigh*). I struggled to remind myself of how happy and proud of the piece I was when it was completed. That I had pitched it, written it, performed it, managed to find someone to film it, got an audience, all in a country that I had been in for less than 4 months. But, because I hadn’t gotten the accolades I had expected/hoped for, it was difficult for me to remember the old feeling.
I think its something that often happens with creative projects that I am involved with. I get so worked up in how people are going to react to it, how it might further influence my career or move me along the path I want to go down, that I forget the reasons I wanted to the thing in the first place.
But this post is about good things as well as bad, so I’m going to stop focusing on that and move on to something else that I created that I am convinced is great and I love to bits.
So, for my creative connections course, I was given the job of decorating the chest of drawers that is going in our pop-up cafe with one of the other lades. We were very unenthusiastic about the job to begin with. We looked at it and just sort of shrugged our shoulders and said, ‘oh, I don’t know. Lets just paint it.’
Luckily, one of our facilitators stopped us as we were going for the paint and said, ‘hang on.’ She said, it was always good to stop, slow things down and think before starting any project, and if we weren’t inspired yet, we shouldn’t do anything, but look at some images and come up with a plan. Thank goodness she did, because what we came up with is, I flatter myself, amazing.
We got a whole of silhouettes and put them on to projector material. We projected them on to the chest of drawers and traced the outlines. On the front, we had a house, on one side is a little boy, on the back is a dog, and on the final side, a tree. The idea was that we would take a scene/picture and wrap it around the chest of drawers, so people could follow it round, have a bit of a journey, discovery and have a bit of fun. We used pyrography to burn the images into the wood, then we painted the drawers around the images white, and rubbed bitumen into them to give the drawers and old-world look.
Then the fun stuff happened. We got all sorts of different material to ‘dress-up’ the images. We put multi-coloured leaves on the trees, clothes on the boy, curtains on the windows of the house and basically jazzed the whole thing up.
It looks fantastic. I’m so proud of it and I can’t stop staring at it. I don’t know that I have ever been so proud of anything I have made before, and, what’s more, I don’t need anyone else to tell me its good. I know its good in my bones.
But, it was nice last night, because as we were setting up the site for the pop-up cafe, a lady came in to look, and the reason was our chest of drawers. She loved it, she called out to her friends and family to come and look at it. She was utterly amazed by it, ‘do you make your own stuff?’ she asked, and patted all the little bits of material.
I think, and I’m going out on a limb here, but I think the reason its so good is because it was collaborative work. I’m such a control freak and perfectionist, which means it is very difficult to work with other people (especially if I decide I don’t like their ideas or don’t respect them or feel that they don’t like my ideas or respect me…), and I’m also terrified that people will tell me they think my ideas are crap, so I so often hold things I’m planning or creating as close to my chest as I possibly can, not letting anyone even get the smallest peek at what I’m doing. The irony is, that the work I’m most proud of is the stuff that I have worked with someone else on, because, as long as we work well together, we add and improve to each other’s ideas, and each has different skills and talents that they can bring to the partnership.

Anyway, that’s enough good stuff. Here is a picture of the chest of drawers. I will post up a better collection of pictures after the pop-up cafe this weekend. I’m really looking forward to it!

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