Wonky Beginnings

Posted on 28 August 2014

Shame and guilt are different. Guilt is when you feel you have done a bad thing. Shame is when you feel you are a bad person. A similar distinction exists in developing as an artist. There are the mistakes you make when creating a new work, which are distinct from having no talent.

Nobody comes into this life fully formed as a human being. It takes time and practice to learn how to sing, paint, dance, write, or act. Some people may have innate talent which makes it easier, but that’s still not the same as just knowing how to do a thing. As such we will all make mistakes in the process.

What do we even mean by “mistake” in the arts? Often a mistake is simply not following a set of instructions or cultural expectations perfectly. Jazz makes a positive virtue out of these sorts of mistakes. Some of the most interesting, creative, and soulful works come out of working with mistakes and seeing where they might take you. This is pretty much how biological evolution works as well.

I firmly believe that if you are supportive of the process, you are likely to get a fuller more magnificent outcome. Nudging along the way is fine, nitpicking is not. Polishing fine detail is something you leave toward the end of a project.

Know that if you have been selected to be in one of my productions, it’s because you have talent. It may be raw talent, but it is still there. This will be true of other productions as well. Those of us on the festival end of the performance spectrum have to fine tune our ability to recognise people with the capacity to shine, then have the wherewithal to nurture that flame. That comes with a heaping helping of encouragement, spiced with a bit of advice.

In any group creation respect your artists. Create a safe space to experiment. Allow mistakes. Allow for wonky beginnings. Just make sure everyone is bubbling along in a forward direction. Then have faith. It will work out in some fashion.

Peace and kindness,


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