Where Creativity Begins (or how a show somehow managed to come together)…
We did a thing and it had to begin somewhere. Could I have known that in the end I would be performing my first ever theatre production to a sold out audience of 300 over three nights in an epic show with a magnificent cast of twelve people and the high likelihood of a national tour looming ahead. I am not sure. Would I have begun this if I knew where it was taking me, absolutely.
Though, I must admit, I am not sure we can ever truly know the final destination when it comes to our creativity. Sure we have goals, ideas, dreamings of what something may become. But to know the end-point, maybe we’d actually lose the magic of it all, give ourselves to something of a bland, flatness. It is the murky, dangerous path that ushers in our most creative self and brings about something quite extraordinary.
She told me that she sat there at her writing desk looking out the window at a world full of light and simply asked herself, what would happen if the sun disappeared? Just one thought. One niggling question. One moment. From this moment she wrote. Words and sentences came together to form a script. A draft. The narration of a reality. A world. She gave it to me. The draft and the world. I fell in love with both. As I read the words there was something that hovered just above the screen. Something wriggling away between the text. It was the feeling that this, what I was reading, that it held something, meant something, could be something.
I offered my thoughts on the narration draft and put forth that it needed a second person. She asked me to be that person. Perhaps something was also hovering just above me. She told me that Fringe Festival Applications were about to close the following week. So with no show, and with a partner (namely ME) who had never actually written or performed theatre before, this brave woman committed to making this thing with me. Whatever this thing might become. And become something it did.
From the idea came the draft and from the draft came a heck of a lot of hard work. The sculpting and crafting of a show. What was one thought at a desk was now two people working to bring this world into existence. The narration was a poetic lyricism that I was used to, that I thrive on in my own creativity. I could hold my own with this. The familiar. We took the initial and crafted it beautiful.
What was not so familiar was what came next. The taking on of a character within the world we had created. The actual theatrical part of our show. Everything in me wanted to just be a narrator. To hold onto my comfortable place. Yet, there was a part of me that knew this was not to be the case. It was the part that I call ‘idiot’. As in, “Don’t be stupid you idiot, just stick to what you know.” It probably has better names than this though.
My friend calls this space inside ones, ‘deep, deep’. It is the inner place. The place of knowing. The place of intuition. The place where the divine imagination flows. The core of us. The place that speaks the preposterous things that at once feel right and at the same time fill you with dread.
So it was out of this place that I gathered up all my courage and took a step into the world of improvisation. We both stepped into a world without the sun, namely Anna’s room. We turned off the lights and drew the curtains, but it was still not dark enough so we pulled the doona up over our heads so that we could not see anything. Then we begun.
Two characters emerged. Strangely they held our names. Anna and Joel. We became them and felt the dread of a world that does not know light and the life-altering moment of a candle lit in the darkness. This improvisation became our first scene. This scene led onto more and more and soon our narration was intertwined with a story. And I was to be one of the actors, I would play Joel. And Anna, well she would play Anna.
We did not stop there however. Soon the show would become a fully immersive experience and soon we would have the support of ten others, who all put up there hands to volunteer. They were going to be ushers of sorts, but then they became characters themselves within the world and then they had monologues to share and lighting that they created from torches and interconnected transitions between narration and dialogue. And so it was that before long we had an epic show with a large narrative arc and intertwined smaller stories and lots of deep meaning and a cast of actors and Josh Fuhrmeister backing the narration with a stunning musical score and…well…what began as a fleeting thought at Anna’s writing desk, now became a sold out fringe show that we have just finished the run of a few days ago.
It is here that I must admit that throughout all of it, I was petrified. I was pushed so far out of my comfort and still somehow I chose to stay there. To give myself to this new acting thing with all of me. To create this theatre show that at times we felt certain would have to be a flop. To trust that even if it was a flop that the process we were on to create our flop was still worth it. And it was. Not a flop. Thankfully. But worth it. All of it. So much response from people, both audience and cast, whose lives were changed by our show. And for me the process of working with a stunning writer and actor, namely Anna McGahan. She trusted me. I trusted her. We felt the fear. We walked to the edge with it. That murky dangerous path. We held it in our hands. Surrendered. Trusted. We did a thing and it had to begin somewhere. And now you know where it did begin, the same place all creativity does……with risk.