Friday, November 14, 2014

In The Thick Of It (and how I learned to stop worrying about climbing)

Images from the plays I've been working on in this 18-month stretch.

There's a certain inherent dissatisfaction that can be part of having an artistic career, and playwriting is no different. There's never much money, there aren't many production slots, and there's always a hope for the next "bigger" thing. Maybe this reading will lead to a production, maybe this production will catch the attention of someone in New York, maybe an off off Broadway show will move to Off Broadway, maybe Broadway will come calling. Maybe the next reading will lead to a production at an NNPN theatre, or a LORT theatre. Maybe the show will get a positive review, in someplace important, maybe someone will notice my work, will notice me.

I confess to having these thoughts. They're not particularly productive. They haven't caused any of these things to happen. Thoughts like these are good at adding to a general sense of unease and anxiety. And though they generate pressure to perform, I'm not convinced they lead to the creation of better work. They do lead to a general far-sightedness, that lifts the eyes up to the horizon and removes focus from the people and work sitting right in front of me.

As much as I have ambitions of "bigger" things for me and my work, I haven't spent much time thinking about such things lately. My attention has been completely absorbed by the work at hand, and I feel like I'm the luckiest writer in the world. I'm in the midst of an 18-month stretch of working on seven different full-length plays and musicals, with more than a dozen readings, workshops, and productions of those seven plays. (A few of the scripts were written a while ago, but they're getting readings and productions now.)  Sometimes it feels like creative whiplash, trying to unlock the mental bin for Lost in Lexicon and then switch the next week/day to Lab Rats and then back to Distant Neighbors.

I don't know that any of these productions or readings are designed or likely to lead to something "bigger." They might not be impressive to people higher up the theatrical food chain. But I don't care. I love the sensation of being completely immersed in the warm (and sometimes turbulent) waters of theatre and creation. I love getting to work with collaborative artists from so many different companies. With the exception of Clockwise Theatre in Illinois and Liminal Space in London, all the companies I'm working with are here in Boston, so I'm getting to work with people who part of the community where I live. I'm engaging with an audience of theatre goers who surround me every day.

More and more, I'm realizing that the place where I want to be is exactly where I am, and the thing I want to do is what I'm doing right now. I'm working, I'm creating, I'm part of a creative community that gives me an electric jolt every day. I'm not spending so much time looking ahead for what's next, I'm just trying to make the most of where I am right now, and enjoy every minute of it.

I've found the whirlwind I've been looking for, and I wanted to say that I'm here and I'm grateful.

(Special thanks for that whirlwind need to go to: In Good Company, Clockwise Theatre, Tumblehome Learning, Argos Productions, Liminal Space, Fresh Ink, Theatre on Fire, and the Bostonian Society.)

3 comments: said...

Pat: This is great. You are wise beyond your years. Every artist (everyone) should read this.

Love, Dad

Patrick Gabridge said...

Thanks, Dad.

Patrick Gabridge said...

Thanks for reading the blog, Howard!