Rant

So, here’s a new topic. I went to a young producer’s meeting today in Cork, and it was very interesting and exciting and inspiring. After my decision in the last few days (if you haven’t read ‘Doctor’s Appointment’ you won’t know that I’ve decided to leave the au pair business at Christmas, rather than staying on until next May), it was the perfect event to be at. It was a matter of talking to people, saying, this is what I want to do, this is what I’m feeling at the moment. I need to be doing something more related to theatre, and them then stepping forward and saying, ‘here, this is an opportunity, and, this is an opportunity’ etc.
So, as I said, it was a great thing to go along to. First of all, it was a great kind of, comfort, to speak to some people just starting out and to see how much I actually already know and what I’ve already done. That was great. Its always nice to find out you know more than you think you do.
Secondly, it was kind of exciting to be in a room, with enthusiastic, like-minded people who all seemed to be excited about collaborations and what we could achieve together to invigorate the Cork theatre scene. I was filled with hope for the start of next year, thinking, great, I’ll have all this spare time, I can help. I can be the person who runs around and does everything, who emails groups, who puts up posters, who networks and supports. I will be that general theatre oddsbody, the person no-one wants to be, because I’ll have time, and I want to see this stuff up and running.
But, here is where the story gets depressing and confusing. When I attempted to talk to people, well, ok, a particular person who I’m not going to name, offering to help, to talk about getting some of the things that we had discussed off the ground, I got a total cold shoulder. I got a patronising look, I got a closed book, a feeling like I was intruding on somebody else’s turf. This was a person, who, only minutes before was talking about collaboration, of not being clique-y or closed off etc. etc.
It happens so often in theatre. I don’t know if its in the arts in general, or its just in theatre, but, people who, in theory, are enthusiastic about working together, opening things up, who want to collaborate and help actually turn out to want the complete opposite. I wonder if its because of competitiveness. We’re all competing for a tiny audience, for a tiny amount of money, for a tiny little space in the arts scene that we can claim for ourself. We talk up the virtues of collaboration because we can see the benefits for ourself. We can see the glory that awaits us at the end of all the hard work. And then, someone else comes along with the same idea, the same motivation, and instead of thinking, ‘great, here is someone who can help me’, we start getting jealous, we start getting insecure and defensive. We start thinking of all the problems we possibly can with the person who has just volunteered their services. Why are they helping me? Are they crap? Are they going to hijack my project?
I know I’m ranting and its probably not particularly interesting to those outside the arts, but this experience made me really upset and angry. Here I was, standing there, saying, ‘I want to help,’ and instead of people responding with a, ‘great, lets figure out how we can do it,’ I got a ‘Well, yes, I think everyone needs to be involved,’ and a change of the subject. I essentially got the brush off.
Now, I don’t know what I did in that meeting to give this person the impression that I wasn’t serious or capable or whatever, but it seems a truly bizarre reaction to me. I did have to ask them to stop talking once or twice (as they had interrupted me), but considering they spent most of the meeting voicing their own opinions, I think it would be a bit rich for them to get shitty at me for something like that. The only justification I can think of is that she thought I was arrogant, or that she was getting defensive because she felt threatened by me. I was talking a lot about past projects that I had done, and ones that I had up and running at the time. But, still, I think its odd behaviour.
I wonder if it isn’t a case of her having made a quick judgement on me. I was very dolled up, because it was a chance to be out of the house, with adults etc. and this person was not at all. Perhaps I looked like a bit of a ditz, or a bit vain, and she subsequently dismissed me because of that. Either that, or, because I’m Australian they decided I wasn’t at all interesting or worth their while, or that I have no idea what I’m talking about in regards to the Irish arts scene. That is a feeling that I get a lot when I’m talking. And, look, fair enough, mabe I have no idea, but by cutting me off, by ignoring me or brushing me off when I’m attempting to help or assist, or by not explaining to me why you think I’m talking out my rear end, things aren’t going to get any better.
Sorry. I’m mad. I’m pissed off. I’d like to give this person a piece of my mind. But, instead, I am filling up web space with useless rants.
Give people a chance, that’s all I’d say. Give peace a chance, sure, Lennon, but give people a chance too.

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