“Better to already feel bad about myself, I decided. Then critical comments won’t feel as devastating.”
Recently I read NYCB principal Abi Stafford’s recount of she used to be the worst of her critics.
And after years of embracing self-doubt she “realized that being hard on (her)self after a rehearsal or performance does not make (her) dance any better the next day.”
It’s so true.
And I’d argue that self-doubt actually makes you a worse dancer. Or actor. Or performer.
With practice, I have realised that my job as an artist is to actually LOVE what I create. However it feels.
To give it – my words, my movements, my research… – space and time to Be. In the knowledge that they are safe: they will not be destroyed, dismissed, forgotten, erased in the next few minutes, hours or days.
I want them to know that they are free to be there, become better, become worse, and keep changing I reach a point where I feel that they are Perfect.
Perfect for me.
Awkward, maybe, incomplete probably, but at some point I feel that they are saying, or showing, or sharing what I wanted to say, and that this piece, at least, is done and will not be touched by me ever again.
In my last play, there are many moments that I love. Some are funny, some are touching, some – I believe – heartbreaking.
There is this one moment, though, that always made me cringe when I performed it. It is the opening monologue of my character, Camille.
These lines have been there from the start. They have been edited and rewritten many times without me aver managing to make them exactly what I wanted them to be. They lack depth. They do not bring the audience rapidly towards the parallelism between our 2 characters.
I’ve sat down to rewrite them many times, until I realised that changing them would lead me to change the whole piece. Creating one small change here, in the opening, would escalate into edits at every page, which would in turn create a different play.
But the play is done.
It might not be everyone’s tastes but to me it is Perfect. It says what I want to say.
It gives me the same feeling that my banker friends who describe why they like excel and modelling so much (??!!?): there is a right answer, and they love finding it. At some point, everything makes sense.
With this play, even if contrarily to an excel model, it could always change, I feel that I have my ‘Right Answer’ moment.
The play is ready, and now I have to let it go.
However many flaws it might have.