There has been major absence on the blog, and I am annoyed by it because so much overwhelming life has happened since I last posted about that wonderful and inspiring night watching the Tony Awards with my sister on a projector in her dorm at Harvard University. That whole month in Massachusetts was a time that I still think and fantasize about, and more of late, as recent experiences have led me to really question whether London is the right city for me to exist in. A big discovery I know, and while not completely decided on, one I feel is very much justified after spending a lot of time away this year and never once feeling homesick, or that any of my contact with loved ones, or creative work I thrive on making couldn’t be done in the other cities I’ve been in this summer.
I currently have 18 drafts of unfinished articles on my website, the oldest dated at June 2015. I don’t know if that counts as proof of my productivity, my procrastination, or the fact that I am spreading myself thinner than your last teaspoon of almond butter. I’m not bothered about many of the drafts because they are much more explorative and existential work on questions that I continually ask myself, and they are going to take more time. But some of them are posts that I could’ve have finished within a few days, posts that I now can’t remember enough about the situation to make them as witty and sharp as they could’ve been when the inspiration for them came. I start drafting them with the best intentions, but the words fade out as a new idea, or appointment, or job opportunity comes, and I haven’t been strict enough with my time to sit and craft the sentences together.
In an effort to not completely disappear under the midst of life’s occurrences, both incidental and surprising, I’ve been gravitating a lot more towards posting updates on my Instagram page. I love Instagram, and its immediacy has made it the best platform to keep my creativity present. But it eventually started to dawn on me that the longer I left actually writing a concrete post (as fulfilling as even my lengthier posts were), the more life I’d have to figure out how to condense. Enough drafts and I might as well just leave the window open… hehe…so please see below for my efforts to condense my summer:
I returned home from a month in the US to live the ‘resting’ actor life for the first time in over a year, clawing through Facebook groups for promo work and temp shifts, before finding out –whilst on a first date- that I’d booked my first commercial, and that I’d have to fly out to Barcelona at 9am the next morning. I also became the Young Members’ Councillor for Equity (the UK’s leading entertainment union), which I wish I could say was a harder task, but I was elected unopposed; however that is something I’m hoping to change over the course of my term. I started rehearsals for the world première of GIRLS, my first professional play and lead role that doesn’t require someone else been sick or injured, and a play which has involved me going back to my roots, wearing my natural hair and unintentionally coming to a much-needed acceptance of (and nearly embracing) it. I completed post-production of my first short film, which was screened at a film festival, where people came and laughed (!) at something I created; it was probably the most fulfilling experience this year, second to completing rehearsals and beginning performances of Girls at HighTide Festival, and Birmingham Rep, a performance that has been reviewed in print newspapers and watched by open, responsive and generally wonderful audiences.
As well as elaborating on some of these one-sentence summaries, I plan on writing in more detail about many other things, including how it took getting six professional jobs this year, and losing one of them, to realize that you can only really be content with your life if you are living for the right things. That realization came hand in hand, if not shortly after realizing that I’ve been starting to work for the wrong things; or living for the wrong work, or living for work that cannot sustain a content life, or all of the above plus service charge. I’ve been confronted with a call to discover what the right things are. I know what they are not. They are not credits. They are not brunches I can’t afford but I feel obliged to go on because I don’t know whether that person will make time to see me otherwise. They are things like the low blood pressure I have that is now affecting not only how I work, but also how I live on a day-to-day basis. They are my relationships with people that I speak to at any financial, emotional or physical state.
This summer has put me in situations that have forced me to reclaim the responsibility of my vocation from individuals to whom it had been entrusted; better yet, it’s made me realise that all along, I want to be the one in charge of it. It takes the most ridiculous experiences to teach you the most crucial lessons about what you will and won’t stand for, and how you’ll allow people to treat you. Like I said, it’s been an overwhelming summer, but a revelatory one. And I’ve always been eager to learn.
So here we are; back to London where, in a matter of hours, I start technical rehearsals for my most expansive professional opportunity to date. And although we’ve been performing this show for the last two weeks, something about arriving in London makes it seem like a new chapter for the show. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s been one of the only constants in a summer of utter flux. But as it’s the constant that has brought me here, I can’t help but be grateful for the opportunity to be back at my base camp, regrouping and reconnecting with my most basic and unshakable needs, whilst having a chance to decide exactly what London is to me, exactly what it holds for me. So today, on this new day, and what I hope is the beginning of a new wave, I made a bowl of porridge, played some Jamie xx and drafted up something that I swore would not remain a draft for too long. And it felt really good.