Probably my favourite thing about my job is that I get to say things like Try to vomit three times if you can and I don’t think we need Fabrizio to be an alien and Your bum would look less vulnerable if you were facing the other way in a professional context without anyone complaining to HR. In fact, they actively thank me for this advice. This advice is my job.
I’m trying to think of a way to talk about art, about theatre-making, about my “creative practice” without sounding too serious. Without sounding too… wanky. It’s pretty difficult.
Since I quit my Proper Job in March I have worked on my writing or dramaturgy every day. Which is an amazing gift and privilege. But it’s also kind of a curse. Making art is exhausting. It takes up your whole life and head and heart. There are no days off. There are no boundaries. There is almost no money.
Arts funding in Australia (and the world) is in crisis. Opportunities are few and far between and you are always competing against people you know, against your friends. Staying happy for the success of others – a basic human decency – becomes difficult. It becomes hard not to see a win for them as a loss for you. I can hear it sometimes in my friends’ voices. I can hear it in my own.
I don’t know if this is too honest now.
I don’t want to complain. I don’t want to sound ungrateful. I am grateful.
On Thursday night we had a messy preview of a show I’ve dramaturged. Some elements didn’t work. Some jokes didn’t land. I took notes. I thought of ways to make changes. We arranged to re-rehearse.
On Friday I went to see a run of a different show, a show I’ve written. I was nervous, but it went well. I’ve read the play a thousand times but I liked watching it. Which is an achievement. Which is actually kind of huge. Still, I had notes. I made some edits, I suggested some changes.
On Friday afternoon I returned to dramaturgy. We restaged and tightened and cut what wasn’t working from the preview. A few hours later we opened, and the performers killed it. They tore the roof off. They remembered the changes, the jokes landed, the show flew.
It was twenty-four hours. It was a day in the life.
Afterwards in the bar, friends asked, How did opening go? And I got to say, It was awesome. They killed it.
Afterwards friends asked How was your run this afternoon? And I got to say, It went well.
Afterwards friends asked, Are you happy? And I got to say, Yes.
I got to say, Super happy.
And I am happy. And I am grateful. Because that’s the trade off. And for now, that’s enough.
But will it always be?
A version of this post was sent by email on the 15th September 2019 as part of Internet Care Package – a weekly memoir project in the form of a newsletter. It also includes links to the best things I’ve found on the internet each week and occasional updates on my theatremaking. This blog is a select archive of those emails. Subscribe to get them right in your inbox.