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Devoted & Disgruntled 12: What Shall We Do About Theatre and the Performing Arts Now?

Frauds & Failures

Edward Rapley - 14 January 2017

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Called by Ed Rapley

I often feel like a fraud or a failure. Today I felt like I didn't belong here. That i have been away from the theatre too long, important people don't know I'm still in the city.


FRAUDS

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Do you sometimes feel like a fraud or a failure?

Yes. Comparison to others' success.

Always faking it without making it.

Creating deadlines and shows as a way to force myself to do what i love.

During the performance as a fool i can play with my shadow, off stage it plays with me.

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All the time. Hearing other parents at school echoing back the same boring things i say and feeling I'm not the only one. Feeling like the only one in theatre who has these feelings.

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I'm a part-timer, can i even call myself a playwright?

Entering the world of comparison, other's success and undercutting my own achievements.

Job/Creativity + self worth enmeshed.

Feelings of unfulfilled promise.

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Even today I'm feeling this, I've been away for a bit.

Trying to be kind to yourself.

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I can feel like a fraud, not a failure (I'm too optimistic)

There can be a clique in new writing, language and behaviors that feel like barriers.

The work has a close connection to self - impostor syndrome has effected me.

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Is impostor syndrome more common in the arts?

I don't think so, other people experience it too but there effect of impostor syndrome can be more debilitating because of the lack of support

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Without the external validation of status and money you are on your own - re-teaching your value system everyday.

Being conscious of the conversations i have with friends.

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Pedestalling also happens: elevating people and ourselves when the work goes well.

Great self esteem from the work.

It feels like identical twins SUCCESS & IMPOSTOR

I have a feeling that my bubble of self belief has burst.

The bubble can be punctured or deflate

What motivates me now?

There are benefits to having some level of ego.

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We have a dilemma: keeping the balance of self assurance and vulnerability.

Our capacity to be uncertain and to connect with people.

Trump has an ego that cuts him off from reality.

How do we hold on to uncertainty?

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Self rewarding is not always arrogance, it can be helpful. otherwise we can sometimes not own our success.

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How do we perceive others as frauds? Who is true and who is not?

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I do that, I think that person is genuinely original, that one is parroting what other people say. Doing it to others makes you feel like they do it to you.

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Our perception of other people's perception of us - i think they think I'm a fraud.

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Is feeling like a fraud just an excuse?

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FAILURES

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I did three solo shows in birmingham, three and a half hours, 10 people in a 150 seater theatre, finished the shows, hostel closed, waited until 3am for the coach to Bristol.

Felt like the deepest failure, has prevented me from engaging with my own solo shows since then.

I can't go back to feeling like that.

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Perhaps you can overwrite the experience with the value of the work? The show itself was not a failure. The stuff around it was a failure. Know what you are good at. Get help with the rest.

Get specific about what failed and why?

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Actually i feel like for the first time i have some distance from that experience. I'm not the failure, I had a failure.

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What is the emotional impact of failure?

Thinking you know yourself, having assumptions about being secure, then having them shattered: the play without jokes that no one laughed at. Not being able to write for a year.

Needing the validation of laughter.

Knowing that being vulnerable and taking a risk makes good art.

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The emotional experience of experimenting - our reactions to taking a risk.

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The paper prop of Pericles: a giant paper mache greek helmet that refused to stand up.

Struggling on stage as an actor, being reduced to just me in front of 300 people.

Leading me to trusting other people's judgement before my own.

Until now i see i have come full circle and I want to just be me on stage.

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Isn't failure fine?

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Failure is whatever isn't fine.
The thing you can't deal with is fine.

Failure is also natural and necessary.

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Can we be forgiven for our failure?\

Can the industry forgive us?

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The industry doesn't know anything, it wants success it can get a part of.

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The feeling is awful - you learn eventually.

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Failure is when i know something is wrong.

Failure can be a valuable signal.

“It's not ok” can be a friend. - The shadow tells us something.

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Social media is often the presentation of success.

Yet the shadow is necessary for us to be full.

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SHAME vs the ecstasy of being in the zone.

I am a failure vs I have a failure

Brene Brown videos - shame and vulnerability

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There is a group call Entrepreneurs Anonymous that shares stories of start ups that fail.

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I often feel like a fraud as a critic.

I want to rethink criticism as a creative act and boom as soon as i say that I feel like a fraud.

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Meaningful feedback is vital

Desire for a collective of peers
A process without judgement
continuity.
The validation of an outside perspective.

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The critic has something useful to say.

Here i am between makers and audience and if i feel like a fraud then what do the audience feel like?

I wrote a friend detailed feedback, i stayed up to 2am writing. It has been 6 weeks, i haven't heard from them. I wanted to be useful. Have i been mortally wounding?

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We need true critiques and we need nourishing to be able to reveal our dark scars and to keep going.

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ADDENDUM

The failure discussed were active ones, often on stage.

What about all the failures two steps before the show?

The work you never made.

The funding that you didn't get.

The failure of all the work you've never made.

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