I have written extensively about the need to separate my social life from that of my working life. The two inevitably combine, and I spend just as much time pondering theatre during the day, as I do pondering it in an auditorium in the evening. More pondering online through Twitter, and then I fall asleep, no doubt to some theatrical dream. This weekend however, a bank holiday weekend no less, I managed to spend three whole days without contemplation, and rarely speaking the ‘T’ word. Distance? Not quite. Just enjoying other smaller cultural activities and happenings, but distance nonetheless.
Park life, with wine and cheese and playing on the climbing frames. Movies; one tragic (Rabbit Hole); one childlike (Despicable Me) and one foreign new release (I’m So Excited). A gallery visit, but not for the art. Two walks across Millennium Bridge, and late night chatter with friends and an intimate lover. Food, plenty of it. Reading: novels and playing in a bookshop. Then there’s the crucial matter of rest, uninterrupted relaxation where time is only measured by the sun that rises and sets. What a blissful weekend.
The thing that strikes me most is not the distance that I put between myself and the theatre, but how the other activities helped to ease my theatrical conscious mind, by fuelling it with ammunition of creativity outside of the blackened auditorium. The park, a stretch of land designed for recreation for society became a playing space of narratives and dramatic quality. The view from the top of the Tate Modern becomes an inspired landscape of dramatic potential set against St Paul’s Cathedral whilst the breaking of bread between friends becomes a communal activity much like theatre itself. Regardless how far we distance ourselves from the passion we seek in life, we’re only using other activities to either fuel the passion or to act as a pallet cleanser for the next course.
Creativity lives and breathes in everything that, in my case at least, London provides. Whether I’m traveling on the underground or eating at my favourite restaurant or sitting on the Southbank, the dramatic qualities and potential for theatrical presentation are endless. It can be found in all art forms, because the arts feed themselves, in creative energy and output. It can, I’m sure, benefit the artist or creative to step outside their own art form and envelop themselves in another form to play with, if only for a weekend. Mine was literature and cinema. Revelling in the potential for a novel or film to create a world to immerse yourself in is exactly the process we undertake when getting lost in the dialogue of a playwright in the theatre. We are far too willing to be thrown into a world beyond ourselves, but this is true for all art, be it theatre, literature or music.
I am a creative individual, going as far as to admit that I’m a cultural obsessor. I find it amusing that on a weekend when I purposely, or non-purposely, distance myself from my passion, I inevitably fuel it through the other cultural activities I offer myself. It is true though, no matter what cultural activity you’re undertaking it feeds into your one and only passion by default. The important part is to accept how these qualities feed into your primary focus, and to make sure you take time to seek them further. Looking beyond your passion will only aid your passion further, by depth of understanding and broadening of mind and body.
For instance I’m reading Kay Redfield Jamison’s ‘novel’ An Unquiet Mind; a memoir of moods and madness, a reflection upon Jamison’s personal and professional relationship with manic-depression. I was drawn to it like a moth is to a lightbulb in darkness, perhaps out of curiosity or out of a desire to understand and be consumed by something profound; something greater than myself. So far Jamison’s words have filled me with admiration of a woman so aware (although only through years of struggle) of her emotion and intellect (and subsequently her mental stability). I recognise much in Jamison’s writing, notably the frustrated and fraught precision to understand her emotion, her mood and her mentality of life and body. Reading about manic-depression might seem a far-fetched throw from theatre, but it feels to me that the creative intellect is plagued by madness. The creative obsession, that drives an artist or creative individual to produce work of sheer brilliance is every present. We are, as artists, obsessed with creative output and often confide ourselves within madness to get there. I’m reminded of this article by James Rhodes about finding your love and then letting it kill you, published on the Guardian last week. Oh how I’ve likened my passion to something that eats away at myself.
I’m straying slightly from the start of this blogpost: creativity can not be limited to one art form. It should spiral, ceaselessly and quite wonderfully through the art forms. Like a paintbrush that when lifted to the canvas reveals, not just one colour, but a multitude of hues and pigments, a colourful vortex. That is what we should strive for. Having just finished reading David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, I found myself completely and utterly drawn to one character, Robert Frobisher, who described in such perfection the joy of composing music and the magnitude of the world around him:
I understand now, that boundaries between noise and sound are conventions. All boundaries are conventions, waiting to be transcended. One may transcend any convention, if only one can first conceive of doing so. Moments like this, I can feel your heart beating as clearly as I feel my own, and I know that separation is an illusion. My life extends far beyond the limitations of me.
Not quite the quote I was looking for to describe creative passion, but the idea of transcending makes me think that art should continually transcend. We as consumers of art and creativity should also be prepared to transcend. Isn’t that what art is for anyway? To lift us up and beyond what we experience in the mundanities of life? A sweeping generalisation, I know. Stepping outside of your chosen field and to spectate, if only spectate for the briefest of moments, allows you a greater and more insightful understanding of your field.
Creativity can not exist in and of itself, it has to go beyond; influence and conquerer.
This started as me trying to note that I’ve had a wonderful weekend away from theatre, and how other cultural work will aid me in my understanding of theatre as a whole. Now I fear it’s resulted in a jumbled but flowing collection of thoughts that offer nothing than me trying to state something obvious: creativity lives and breathes in everything, and we should do our best to experience it in its fullest and not be confided to a single art form. Now why did it take me 1154 words to reach that point?