What Would It Be Like To Quit Theatre? (Side note, we were struck by the range of ages; there were several mid-career practitioners but also several people in their mid/early-twenties with staggering student debt, questioning the path which they are on.)Reasons to Quit (this bit was pretty easy!)- Lack of opportunities- Precarious freelance/gig economy life style- Low pay- Long hours- Stress- Post show blues and the adrenalin/depression cycle- Making theatre for a bubble of other theatre makers- The pain of rejection/failure as being a fundamental reflection on us as people- The huge disparity in pay and acclaim between the ‘successful’ and the ‘struggling.’- Toxic manager/leaders- Toxic co-workers- Having to be driven/focussed/obsessed- Comparison with others- ReviewsWorth noting that these problems can be encountered in a growing number of other industries, currently.Good reasons to continue (these seem to come pretty easily too)- Loving creating things for audiences- A sense of empathy with audiences- Camaraderie- Immediacy – you get to see the result of your work in a few weeks (months/years if producing.)- Creating space which imagines new worldsThere is a Buddhist concept of the three goods; does our work create value in the world, do we enjoy it, does it financially support our lives. It’s alright to pursue all three. Sometimes theatre can provide all of these.Toxic reasons to continue (could be hard to face these)- Building our identity/egos upon being ‘a theatre maker.’ Who are we if we stop?- Sunk loss fallacy – ‘we’ve worked so hard and all of that will be lost if I quit.’- We are surrounded by stories of driven, single-minded people becoming successful ‘having what it takes,’ we seldom tell stories about people having the wisdom and humility to pivot their lives in healthier directions. To change career is to fail, to give up on our dreams.Possible ways forward- Holding a broader sense of selves not just as theatre makers but as ‘artists.’ Writing, drawing, playing, are available to all of us without the need to secure a partner theatre, ace funding, and a team of ten people.- Address some of the negatives by putting better boundaries in place – saying no to obviously toxic projects, setting personal work boundaries (see the report on social anxiety/emails.) And the possibility of charging more to work with toxic people AKA The Dick Head Scale.- Really embrace and build upon our ‘side hustles’ rather than being ashamed of them; it is not failure to have a portfolio career, very few people not in a full time post can afford to just practice their primary art.- Celebrate the achievements we have made and then move on to other careers positively, rather than telling ourselves a narrative of failure.- Celebrate the amazing, and widely applicable skills we have developed and imagine how they could be applied, profitably and enjoyably elsewhere. The example was Autoglass who, due to improvements in windscreen production became unnecessary, who reapplied their skills of working with people in emergencies. Corporate training uses a lot of drama skills.- Embrace other ways of working; co-directing, consultant directing, etc.- It is possible (if hard) to go and then come back.And for me, this is the most compelling:Acknowledging that wanting things is healthy but needing things (other than food, water, etc.) is a sign of dependency/addiction. ‘My name is Tom and I’m a recovering theatre maker.’ There is strength in acknowledging and challenging that in ourselves, so that if we do choose to stay it is coming from a healthy place. In a way it is the law of two feet applied to our industry; if I choose to stay I acknowledge that it is an active choice that I am making and that changes the nature of my engagement with it. Or I can choose to go somewhere else, and that is okay too. Since I have held a lighter relationship with my career, separating it from my identity, I now enjoy going to the theatre and even networking much more as there’s less comparison’s/stakes.