The last few days at college have been Full Of Fail for me. Well, not even that; “fail” implies I tried to succeed at something, while my recent failings have been three things I simply haven’t taken part in.
First, and most substantially, is Space Lab. While the class could never be quite as exciting as the name suggests — no rockets, lasers or even white coats in sight — it’s a different angle on performance to most other classes at LISPA. With origins in Lecoq’s Laboratory of Movement Study, it focuses on the making of things to be used in performance. This year we’ve had the very broad theme of “the abyss”, with the aim of making puppets and/or costumes.
I’ve had a couple of personal difficulties with this, the first being that I don’t respond well to such open briefs. It reminds me of both the “green” project I struggled through on my art Foundation course (twenty years ago, urgh) and the five week “space” project that left me floundering on my design degree course.. Both times I didn’t know where to start. With such wide briefs you can, to be honest, pretty much do anything and blag your way through the final crit, but I’ve discovered I worked better with some restrictions laid down to start with. And “the abyss” wasn’t third time lucky, as I spent the first few classes doodling in my notebook, rudderless and clueless.
Once I finally had an idea — construct a life-size human skeleton out of paper and customise it to create a half-dog half-human puppet — and begun work I hit the other fundamental problem; I just wasn’t interested in making things. I feel bad for saying such a thing, and the younger me who used to cut photos of stage sets out of newspapers and magazines, would be kicking today’s me. But I feel like I’m “done” with making this kind of stuff and of all the many, many things I want to do with my time at the moment, spending days fiddling with card and string for a theme that doesn’t inspire me isn’t one of them. It’s not fear of failure or lack of ability; I made a several 3D things for my degree and made more, on a smaller scale, at Aardman after that, and may make more in the future, but at the moment my head’s elsewhere.
Which is an awful lot of justification for eventually skipping a few classes when other people skip classes and days probably without a second thought. I don’t like giving up but that’s what I did this time and I didn’t take part in last night’s final Space Lab presentation. Fail.
The second thing I gave up on was a class of Amy’s for which we had to prepare a “grotesque cabaret” piece. Even allowing for the fact I had little idea what qualifies as “cabaret” I struggled to think of anything to do and eventually turned up for class unprepared, which I hate. It wasn’t the end of the world — duh — as not everyone had a turn to present anyway, but it did feel like I wasn’t even trying.
Third, and hopefully finally, we’re supposed to write a grant proposal for our weekly Company Development class. We’re to think of a project we’d like to put on and write a proposal, with background documents and budget, etc., to hand in prior to a three minute presentation to the teachers, acting as a Dragon’s Den-style board of grant-hander-outers.
I haven’t written the proposal and won’t be doing so, because I’ve realised there is nothing I want to perform. Well, there’s nothing I want to perform enough to have to go through the struggle of applying for grants, spending months preparing on the tightest of budgets, and then touring crappy venues in the hope a handful of people turn up and we don’t go completely broke. Which is pretty much the standard process for theatre companies starting out. I have no desire to start a theatre company. If I was ten or fifteen years younger maybe I’d have the energy, but today that’s something I’m lacking.
Don’t get me wrong… I still want to act and enjoy the challenges of doing so. I guess I’m holding out for the unlikely event I can get a part in something as just an actor, without having to do all the administration and organisation that goes on behind the scenes of the smallest production. But, as I’ve always known, this is far from likely for a beginning actor. It always feels like everyone else at college is super-enthusiastic about starting their own theatre companies and letting loose the vast number of ideas they’re struggling to hold back, while I’m currently empty of ideas and have no desire to start a theatre company any time soon. Simply wanting to be an actor feels a little inadequate in such surroundings and I fear I’m unrealistic in even these comparatively meagre ambitions.
These are pretty fundamental problems, and they’ve brought those ever-nagging “what am I doing with my life?” questions back once again. Do I really have the energy and drive to make a go of this? At the moment, no, I don’t, and my enthusiasms lie elsewhere. Maybe I will be back on track once the course is over and I’ve had a long holiday. Three months to go…