Tuesday, 23 February 2010


For the past four days I have been experiencing an emotional rollercoaster of epic proportions. I’ve been surprised by the veracity of it. I have been feeling intense fear in waves that have made me feel physically ill, I have been feeling utterly helpless, there has been a horrible sinking feeling that I thought would never stop.

Just to confuse matters, intermittently I would feel just fine and think the fear had stopped, but then it would begin again, five minutes later, taking over to the extent that I was unable to do anything practical or sensible.

The cause of this feeling has been the creative project that I was working on. It hadn’t come together in my mind. The process has been such an incredible learning curve. I’ve been training to be a writer and the process I have had to use to investigate the creative project was a completely different kind of process all together. One that I had been feeling very ill equipped to deal with.

At one of the lowest ebbs I was fortunate enough to have contact with my Buddhist leader who is a professional dancer with considerable experience of guiding creative processes, her own, and those of others. She supported me by coming into a rehearsal workshop and helping to keep me steady at a pivotal moment. If I had started to waver or wobble in front of the team I was leading, it could have been disastrous. Pauline helped prevent that from happening, helped me see the positives in what I was doing when I was consumed by fear and could only see what was wrong and what wasn’t happening instead of seeing what was fantastic and what was happening.

This set me back on track but still the emotional rollercoaster continued. It got to the point where I thought I was going to have to pull my project out of the festival it is destined to be shown at on 6th March, to leave my masters degree (having decided that I’m not actually a writer at all) and then I’d have to leave my job too (because they’ve paid a thousand pounds towards my degree) or at least pay back the contribution to my course fees.

The turning point was insignificant really. I went to my MA class where we were all presenting about our forthcoming research projects. I waited until 3rd to last before I stood up to speak but I did stand up and speak and managed to project a false confidence. The fact I had done something positive seemed to help, and if I find myself in similar circumstances in the future, I will try to do something positive in some way, to help someone or something like that. It was also good to think about the project that will come after the presentation of work at the festival, to work towards something that will come after gave a sense of life beyond the present situation.

A reassuring word from another friend, Jan, who told me that she thought that it would be perfectly acceptable to do a demonstration of the improvisation work we’d been doing as part of the presentation if a more final outcome wasn’t forthcoming also helped ease the tension.

In the bath I had a brainwave. Pauline and myself had had a conversation about how we both thought that, in the improvisation session that had taken place on Sunday, what was unspoken was very interesting. When Pauline commented on this I realised that that was exactly the point I was trying to make about denial and elephants in rooms. In the bath, now feeling slightly more relaxed I realised of course, that’s why I’d been struggling to write the piece, it’s about the unspoken!!  

Pauline had mentioned that creative blocks can be for a good reason and can illuminate solutions as well as problems. I think this instance shows that there was a good reason that I was unable to come up with a script, illustrating Pauline’s theory brilliantly! Pauline suggested that breaking down the reasons for the block can be more productive than panicking about them ; asking ‘why is this block happening at this point in the process?’ Another point to note for the future.

I read a play by Jean Claude Van Itallie recently where the characters onstage never actually speak but their voices are heard as sound bytes played over the stage image. This has resonated for me for a while. As I am soaking in bath bubbles I imagine something similar applied to my own piece.

The thought of having a scene where no words are spoken has also been repeatedly coming back to me, it seems a very concise way of illustrating the unspoken. I imagine a combination of a tense silent scene with sound bytes played over the top to give a sense of story, fragments of it, suggestion of it. This idea really pulls out of my panic. I feel that I have something solid. I know what I want to do, want to achieve, want to show. Thank goodness for that.

Next I have to set about gathering the sound bytes, constructing the soundscape and working with the actors on how to play the silences.

This piece is about what goes unspoken, playing silences, and suggestion and finding out how little I can get away with suggesting for the story to resonate.

I feel I can now apply some head space to the other two components of the creative project too now.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me through this difficult period.                      

There may be another low to come, but now that this one has passed, I think I can keep the faith when the next one hits.

Posted via web from northerncreative's posterous

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