On July 9, the day before my 30th birthday, I got to check a big item off of my bucket list: to perform a concert of the music of Kate Bush. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect–not only did it align with a big moment of my life, but she has been blowing up the charts recently due to the inclusion of her song “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” on the TV show “Stranger Things.”
This concert meant a lot to me; I quite honestly can’t put it all into words, and don’t necessarily want to. The performance was for sharing, but the significance of it for me will stay deep in my heart.
I think it is the case with many artists that we spend a lot of time trying to figure out how, exactly, to make a fulfilling creative life happen. For performers, it involves a combination of auditioning (seemingly endlessly) for companies and productions that we may or may not get, and creating our own work. Writing, producing, teaching, and piecing together various other projects to keep ourselves occupied and (hopefully) at least somewhat fulfilled.
I’ve been struggling with this lately. I mostly let go of auditioning for community theatre (that is, unpaid work) a few years ago, and that has led to two years of largely unsuccessful audition seasons with professional theatre companies.
Now, I’m pretty good at handling rejection. I get that it’s part of the career I’ve chosen, and I understand enough to not take it too personally when I get turned down for a role… however, multiple years of hearing “no, no, no” (or sometimes nothing at all) is tough.
Of course that leaves me with the only other options for artists (at least among those who wish to stay artists despite the “no”s), which is to create my own work. This is a lot more difficult than you might think… unless you already assume that it is scary, and vulnerable, and embarrassing, and confusing, and seems impossibly daunting, in which case you’ve got it exactly right! This past year has basically forced me into doing what I should have started on years ago–namely, writing, producing, and performing my own work–and, I have to say, it’s hard. I’ve produced and performed in a couple of cabarets and house concerts in the past, but that feels like kid stuff compared to the work I’ve been doing/attempting lately. Preparing for a sketch comedy show with a friend (“Erin and Erin Get Sketchy,” which we performed at the Grindstone on Feb 24); submitting a one-woman play for NextFest; conceiving a one-woman character-driven cabaret show… It is exhausting. And intimidating. And the hardest, scariest part is not knowing if it will be worth it in the end. I mean, it has absolutely been valuable just to have projects on the go, but I am genuinely afraid that no show that I have conceived and created will ever be good enough by my own standards. Yet it is one of the only ways for me to start piecing together a fulfilling creative life, so… here I go! I now pronounce this the year of risks, possible failures, getting in over my head, and making a fool of myself. Cheers to the creative life!
*bonus points if, after I said “here I go!” in that last paragraph, you followed up with, “and there’s no turning back!” (Little Women the musical reference)