Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Things that I would say to a five years younger version of myself

Years ago, when I was 16 I think, I wrote a letter to myself to open when I was 21. It was a horrible experience and I would recommend it to no one. I was crazily ambitious (for all the wrong reasons) and unyielding in my opinions. 
So I've inverted the paradigm and decided to write down some things that I wish I had been told when I was younger, when I probably wouldn't have listened anyway... 

You will never know how to direct.
You will never know exactly what directing is.
A by product of the work of a director is slowly making yourself redundant. Socially and theatrically, creating an atmosphere whereby you are no longer necessary. 
Directing is lonely.
Directing is intangible. 
It is important to continue learning and to continue being a student.
Never claim to know anything, but shoulder the responsibility if not knowing is problematic. 
Work with writers, as many as you can. 
Create experiences rather than direct plays. 
Collaborate as much as possible on many things, including things non-theatrical. 
Becoming known for an aesthetic, or a kind of theatre, or a certain set of themes means that you have stopped developing and you need to throw everything away.
Those who look up to you will never critique you.
Honest critique is one of the most important things you will ever receive - seek it out, encourage it and engage with it. It is more important to invite someone who will challenge your work than someone who will give you your next job.  
Humility and social laziness are different things. Try not to be socially lazy.
Because the outcome is so intangible it is easy for a director to imply ownership of the entire piece. Try not to do that. Give credit where credit is due. Try not to need any approval. Try to have self contained goals where you are the only judge and you are only measuring yourself against yourself. 
You need to see a lot of theatre, art, music, dance, live art, performance etc. You need to understand the landscape. You need to be politically and socially informed in order for your work to sit within that landscape. Never let up.
You need to direct a lot. It's very difficult to find the opportunities to direct a lot, without directing things you don't want to direct. Therefore, workshop settings are very good. 
Work hard. You know when you are, so do it. Set parameters to work within (a number of hours per day) and stick to it. Within that you can do anything pertaining to the task at hand, workshop, research, find music, research, find visual reference material, research, or rehearse. Don't worry so much about the appearance of research, or hard work, much of the work no one will ever know about.
Oh, and finally: probably best to avoid this kind of thing. At all costs. 

No comments: