2012 is making us unhappy (despite having exciting things in it). How can we remind ourselves that working in theatre is brilliant?

Annie Rigby, 11 July 2012

Annie Rigby & Jo Cundall called the session

Kate, Kate, Thom, Christina, Leyla, Selina and a fantastic woman and keen theatregoer whose name I didn't catch attended.

We're all working too hard. But we don't know how to change.

Our levels of expectation for ourselves are very high.

Sometimes the times of our greatest achievements are the times we are unhappiest.

There is a dissonance between what we say (especially online) and how we actually feel.

We beat ourselves up about what we're not doing.

We're always focusing on the next challenge rather than the last success.

Are we unrealistic in expecting unbridled joy from our work? Well, no, because we don't get much of a financial reward, so there needs to be an emotional reward. And we all shared moments where our work has given us moments of pure joy.

So what to do?

- Find spaces to talk freely. With each other, with non-theatre friends, with whoever really.

- Police each other - tell each other when we see someone do something brilliant.

- Take time to relish and celebrate our successes.

- In our moments of pure joy, write letters to ourselves to read in 3 months time when that feeling may have faded.

- Spend more time during evaluations really interrogating success, not just interrogating failure.

At this point a retired teacher who is a lifelong theatre lover joined the conversation.

She told us how she never buys new clothes, or spends money on fancy food. She spends all her money on theatre tickets. She loves it. It takes her out of herself. She's made new friends through theatre. She travels all over, to theatres and festivals. She loves the buzz. She said, “Keep doing what you're doing because you're my life.”

This definitely reminded us why making theatre is brilliant.

We listen to our audiences for all kinds of reasons, but not often just to make ourselves feel good. But sometimes they're the best people to make us happy when things are tough.


Work, Unhappy, Happy, evaluation, audience, work, Audience, time

Comments: 1

Natalie Querol, 28 July 2012

I'm so glad you called this session Annie. Whilst there are many wonderful things about twitter etc one downside is that we can fall into the trap of believing that everyone is busy being hugely successful, fulfilled and happy and so forget that perhaps reality is a little muddier.

Many, many years ago I joined a group of performing arts managers facing similar challenges and we met up every few months for coffee and support, Chatham House rules applied. It was amazing, professionally and personally (it's how Caroline and I got to know each other for a start). Perhaps something similar is needed now - an informal group of mid career peers supporting each other with cake and honesty. If you're already doing this please can I come? If not I might set something up.