This is the time of year for rituals, which got me thinking about the choreographer Twyla Tharp. She wrote a book about her creative process, in which she reveals that ritual is an essential part of her process and she urged the reader of said book to identify\discover\create\establish their own daily ritual as a fundamental part of any artist’s creative life.
Personally, I’ve tried (on many occasions) to establish my own daily ritual, but summarily failed (on every occasion), though this is the perfect time of the year to try again…so I will….as I happen to subscribe to Tharp’s belief that a daily ritual is key to the success of the creative process.
On the advice of a friend I’m setting myself the target of 200 words a day or half an hour a day writing, whichever comes first - but the real challenge remains the same - when am I going to write those words, take the half an hour, devoted exclusively to the task, of putting down on paper or on the screen….those daily words? Which is where the ritual comes into its own - if I had a daily ritual, a routine, then I’d know…there’d be no question…it would happen the same time, same place, everyday. Simple…job done.
Plays, film scripts, novels, sketches, jokes, short stories, whatever your ambition and\or medium may be….none of them write themselves, no matter how hard we wish they did, but by committing to a set amount everyday, for a certain amount of time you might just surprise yourself how much you can achieve with a certain degree of ease….even more ease than you expected….especially if you just write and don’t censor yourself….but that’s another blog.
It doesn’t have to be a resolution, but it could revolutionise your outlook, your approach and ultimately your output.
Give it a go - what’s your ritual? Commit to it and let it influence your writing life. Whatever happens, it can only be fun, can’t it?
It’s the New Year and the plays are coming off the production line slick and fast. Over the past 24 months or so, I’ve been sharpening my dramaturgical wits with further collaborations with Eclipse Theatre and the Belgrade Theatre, helping the writers Chinonyerem Odimba and Amy Ng steer their new plays out of the dry dock into the open seas this spring. Each of them respectively, shedding new light onto the 1960’s Bristol Bus Boycott and the situation of unmarried women of a certain age in contemporary China. See here for further details about both of these productions which will be opening in Bristol and Coventry before embarking upon nationwide tours –
It’s through this close, one-to-one work with professional writers - listening to them and watching how they take ideas, thoughts, suggestions and constructive criticism churning it all over in their minds before eventually weaving it all into the gold that becomes their play scripts - that ensures my own practice as a dramaturge, teacher and facilitator remains sharp, challenged and focused. I love taking the insight gained and the lessons learned from this practice and letting it inform the lessons and advice I dispense to the students and members of the writers’ groups I convene throughout the year.
This year promises to be particularly exciting on the teaching front, as I’m set to head up new groups with the Young Vic Theatre, Greenwich University and Goldsmiths University, along with my regular work for Royal Central School of Speech and Drama….and on The Inkubator….yes, that’s right, I will be running another 10 week course in Spring 2019….see the EI website for more details.
The thing which excites me most about this work is the range of new voices I will encounter in these groups, and the wide spectrum of new stories which these voices will unleash into the theatre eco-system. Every tale as unique as the individual relating the stories.
So in many ways it’s business as usual for me in 2019, but in so many other ways it’s completely unusual, as I have no idea who I’m going to meet and what stories I’m going to be told - which is why I’m so full of anticipation for the year ahead - because the only thing I can guarantee is so many stories, mean so many lives and so many experiences are set to be captured, set down and shared. Creating new meaning and fresh perspectives for everyone involved.
I can hardly wait to get started.