I’m getting a bit behind. It’s been ten days since my time at LISPA ended and I’ve been busier than I expected, catching up on things I’d neglected for the final busy few weeks. I’m now on holiday in Paris doing very little: catching up on reading, wandering aimlessly, eating well, etc.
So, yes, that’s it, two academic years at LISPA finished. I’d like to write an insightful analysis of all I’ve learned and how I’ve changed but it’s too early to do that well. As the teachers kept telling us at moments of confusion, we have the rest of our lives to think about this stuff. But off the top of my head…
In case there’s some doubt, given how much I’ve moaned about stuff, I am glad I did the course. There were many times when it was too much — too frustrating, too annoying, too difficult, too time-consuming, too brain-consuming — and I wondered why I was doing it. A big part of me wanted to call it quits after the first year, but a bigger part of me is a stubborn bastard and didn’t want to leave something unfinished. I also hoped the second year would be more interesting than the first, putting to use some of the basic skills we’d learned in the first year in something more like real theatre. Thankfully I was right about that and the second year, despite some low points, was more satisfying than the first.
My biggest frustration was probably other people. At the start of the second term of the second year, at the beginning of a class, we were all sitting on the floor in a large circle and the person I was next to looked around and said, “I love and hate everyone here.” Which sums it up pretty well. Having spent a couple of years working closely with all these people it’s hard not to feel something for them all. But at the same time they’ve (almost) all driven me nuts at some point due to their lateness, their messiness (I don’t know where to start), their need to talk all the time, their inability to compromise, their immaturity, their selfishness, or their occaisonal tendency to disagree with whatever I think (imagine!). Maybe I sound like an uptight misanthrope who can’t work with people but, I think, when collaborating so closely it’s just a matter of finding the right people, some of whom were thankfuly there. I hate them and I love them and the feelings are probably mutual.
Creation — the hours we spend in small groups each week working on a new piece to show to everyone — had been my least favourite part of the first year and I wasn’t looking forward to the bigger helping of this in the second year. But, apart from one or two occasions, it worked out surprisingly well. For a start, this year we decided to choose, as much as practicable, who to work with, rather than allocating groups randomly. I usually ended up working in groups I enjoyed and the final term, which I’d been dreading because it was entirely Creation, turned out to (mostly) be a lot of fun. I can even imagine working this way outside college in the not too distant future, something I’d have laughed at six months ago.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned the teaching much here. Partly this is because I shy away from mentioning anyone, teacher or student, personally too much. While it would make my accounts more interesting, it feels too much like talking behind their backs for my liking. However, the teaching was almost entirely wonderful. The four main teachers — Thomas, Amy, Steph and Michael — were completely awesome, a good combination of provocative and supportive, and between them created a great sense of a coherent and well-structured education.
As for me… I know I’ve got better at giving things a go, of putting more of myself into things. I still think too much at times which, in some cases, can be crippling as my inner critic tells me something is stupid and I shouldn’t even try it. (But you never know, maybe he’s right…) I’m a lot more comfortable moving generally, although I wish I’d made more progress in acrobatics — despite turning up every week and practicing I never got much further than the clunky forward roll I achieved in the very first week. I’ve tried lots of different theatrical languages and found some I enjoy and seem to succeed in more than others. I’ll probably think of many other things to write here over the coming days and months and years. I’m still too close to realise quite how I’ve changed.
And, the question people keep asking: what’s next? I don’t know. A month of holiday and then… we’ll see.