“What is my motivation?” Thanks to the works of Stanislavski most of us are familiar with this clichéd expression, usually associated with the more ‘theatrical’ thespians as they seek to find what drives their character. But whether you are about to step onto the stage in a ridiculous costume, unable to go on holiday for another year or missing important family events in order to fulfil those creative ambitions, there will inevitably come the moment when you ask yourself “Why am I doing this?”
This question is important on many levels: personal, professional and artistic. When you work as a professional artist the three become linked. With long working hours, interminable bills to pay and rehearsals to attend, it is not surprising to catch yourself pondering whether what you are sacrificing is worth the pay off for what you are doing creatively. It becomes necessary to assess if the choices you have made are helping you towards fulfilling your ambitions.
The balance between the professional and personal can be a difficult one to strike. As we grow up and cautiously gain more personal responsibilities (rent, utility bills, boyfriends, pets etc.), suddenly the desire to be on the road for six months, living out of suitcases and eating at service stations loses a little of its bohemian glamour. But this does not mean there are not ways of achieving your dream tour – on your terms. We’ve discovered that this is one of the great advantages of running your own theatre company.
So far, 2012 is looking like it is going to be an exciting year for Filskit Theatre. We are in the midst of confirming Brighton and Pulse festivals in May, as well as applications for further festivals in the autumn and are building the prospect of a short, and slightly sporadic, tour. This is what we have been building towards for the past couple of years… We’ve learnt that you do have to strike a balance along the way – yes this sometimes mean our show schedules are a little erratic but we still keep the passion bubbling away. Even during the day jobs the so called ‘motivation’ is always there, simmering away in the background. From working various jobs that made us miserable in the past, we’ve come to realise that we love Filskit far too much to pack it all in for a more conservative nine-to-five. Admittedly, it is often a struggle emotionally, mentally and financially but we are firm believers that passion does indeed see you through.
However, when the theatre company is your main focus it is vital to make sure that all of you still are able to have an identity outside the company. Whether this is achieved socially or through other interests, it will help you to keep bringing fresh ideas to the table. Two of our Filskit Ladies have started courses this year in order to continue to develop their professional skills. Whether it is swinging from silks or singing your heart out, it is a great feeling to develop new and pre-existing skills that can feed into and enhance your work. It is important therefore that companies are supportive of their members’ extra-circular activities. It can be exciting to share in your colleagues’ achievements and fantastic way of building the skill base of the group.
It is also important to remind yourself what drives your artistic choices. Whether it is the reason we wanted to use micro-projection or make theatre for children, when you are in the midst of creativity it is worth reminding yourself why. As recently as last month we tore down our projection screen, reminding ourselves that we wanted projection that could move, not get stuck on a screen. It is very easy to become complacent and stuck in a bit of a rut, but every now and then you just need to take a step back and reflect on the big picture (and we’re not just talking about our mammoth projection screen!). We might finish a rehearsal early and then hit the shops, or just go for some tea and cake or trip to the cinema. Sounds cheesy but we are (nauseatingly) good friends who can honestly tell each other when our acting stinks worse than a lump of stilton. We can then roll on the floor laughing at a peurile rude joke then continue plotting the rest of the scene. We’ve found the balance that works for us personally and that’s really been key in keeping us healthily ticking along.
So what is our motivation? A desire to create great work, something we would want to see, the fact that we really do love working together, and sharing ideas and inspiration. When one of us is down, we have two others to pick us up. We still want to be here, still want to work together and make work, and we will continue to do so!