Hope and Failure

So this is less of my usual boring posts about what I’m actually doing. This is something that I have recently acknowledged is an interest for me.

I was thinking the other day about what I’m interested in when it comes to making theatre/art. Since very early on, specifically my second year of uni (how I wish I still had student loans and the time to spend the money) I have been working with people and dealing with themes of hope and failure.

Hope and failure as topics and themes still interest me. This is obvious if you look at some of the pieces I’ve been working on. The Waiting Man is about a man who is waiting for something, but he’s been there for so long that he doesn’t remember what it is. He has failed because he is still waiting, and probably always will be. That said, he is clearly driven by hope because he’s still waiting, he still believes that his purpose could be fulfilled.

Similarly, Uncanny Corner is a story of failure and hope The three characters exist in a world that has always worked in a certain way, they are comfortable and happy. But there is no danger, no risk of failure but also no hope of anything better. Then the world begins to change, one of the characters embraces it, hoping that the change will bring something new and exciting. Her reaction is one of hope. At the other extreme, my character reacts in a very cowardly way, trying desperately to hold on to the old routine.. Adamant that things do not change. Ultimately my character fails in his attempts to preserve his old way of life and is forced to accept the new world. The middle character is just that. She is not hopeful for better things, or scared of change… in fact she seems to barely notice that the world is changing. Never mind.

I’ve always wondered why I’m so obsessed with hope and failure. Maybe it’s because of where I am in life, in particular my artistic career. I have been through an awful lot of failure, there was the year in Manchester in which I tried to set up Sticky-tape Theatre with some good friends. It turned out we didn’t gel. We ended up wasting our own time (whilst still having great fun) and also the time of Proto-type Theatre who had enrolled us on their mentorship scheme. They gave us a lot of support and we tried, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Then there was the auditions I went to, I reached the final stages of the auditions for Just a Must’s Sports Play, I was second choice for one of the parts, but thats still not there. I also auditioned for Station House Opera and Belt Up, just being offered auditions was great, and Station House Opera asked me to come back at some point and join in with the making of their next show, nonetheless I still didn’t get the part. Alas, failure is frequent.

That said I still have a great deal of hope for the future, and it is not entirely miss-placed, Since September I, with Paper People, have performed in two LEAP events, in Leicester as part of Off-the-Fence’s Upstairs at the Western Festival and then we took Here We Remain (about more failure) to Emergency ‘Poolside. I’ve also performed at Northern Stage’s First in Three with The Waiting Man and taken part in a short leg of Imitating the Dog’s tour of 6 Degree’s Below the Horizon.

As well as this (sorry, I lied, I am telling you what I’m doing as well… sneaky) I am running an artist led Scratch night in Lancaster in June with Josh Coates and Josh and myslef will be performing a double bill in Manchester at the start of July, me with Waiting Man and Josh with Stevie Wonders Stern Warning. Hopefully Paper People will also be performing a new piece at Nozstock festival at the end of July.

So it makes sense that I am obsessed with hope and failure. Life is full of little failures. It can get me quite down. After all, I have a degree and an MA and yet I still work in a pub, I don’t do anywhere as near as much theatre as I want to, I’m terrible with money… there’s loads of them. But I feel like Im learning through these failures. As cliched as it sounds, I am figuring out what I can do, what I can;t and what I may be able to do. And I’m hopeful… almost to the point of blind optimism that I can build a career as a performer and theatre maker.

Maybe I won’t ever stop wanting to explore these themes. Like the waiting man, I will keep working on it, always failing to finish my exploration, but persevering, hoping that I can gleam something deep and meaningful and beautifully artistic… 

Guess we’ll have to wait and see. Fingers crossed.

next time I’m gonna tell you about my obsession with modes of story telling and narrative forms… exciting I know.

“All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” 
― Samuel Beckett