Pet II: Revenge of the Beta Fish

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

As many of you are no doubt aware, I received a Beta fish last July from as a well meaning (if somewhat misdirected) thank you. At first I was worried that I was going to kill the darn thing, a common fear of mine whenever I inherit another living organism. It has been a number of months and the fish is still alive and doing very well despite the number of times I’ve wanted to kill the darn thing.

 

When we first inherited Pet (creative name don’t you think?) my current assistant immanently wanted to flush it down the toilet because she thought he’d be too much trouble. As she was threatening the creature’s impending demise she was also begging that we get a dog. I believe that if you are entrusted with any life form, you are morally obligated to give it the best care you can possibly give it, which is difficult to translate into “Let’s flush a live fish down the toilet.” So I made it clear, the fish was staying. Forget about a dog.

 

About ten weeks later the creature met with its first fiasco as his tank was going in for its weekly clean. Apparently, Pet decided to leap out of the cup he had been transferred into and directly under the stream of extremely hot water which was being used to clean his bowl. My assistant shrieked, quickly trying to end the steaming hot assault on his poor body. When she finally got Pet back into his home, he was clearly in shock and hung out listlessly in the water refusing to eat or even respond to stimuli for days. The young woman felt awful and equally appeared to be a combination of in agony and apathetic for days. If he appeared to be motionless she would fearfully tap on his cage despite my protestations that the creature needed his rest. I kept trying to tell her that nature had an amazing way of healing itself, but she was convinced that she had killed the same fish which she had originally wanted to flush down the toilet.

 

Ten days later, Pet was looking better than ever and we were both in love with the blue miracle fish.

 

And then the really annoying thing happened, Pet started costing me money. Lots of money. So much so that I was halfway tempted to flush the fish down the toilet myself.

 

How can a perfectly healthy beta fish start costing someone a ton of money you may ask? Well, this is what can happen when you use your globe like flower vase as a fish bowl even though it was never intended to be used in such a way. And then you don’t have a real fish bowl to put the fish into you use a plastic bowl as you wait for your the Biorb aquarium you ordered off of eBay to arrive because with all the research you’ve done on beta fish you’ve been told over and over that the animals need a much larger capacity tank and a water filter.  Then the fish tank comes and even though this is a much larger fish tank than the flower vase, the hole on top is actually much smaller so the plastic ornaments which were working so well in the last environment won’t fit in the new one so you have to order a new set because apparently beta fishes need to hide in order to feel safe. Then, of course I had to buy a vacuum thingy to change the  water because the new bowl was too heavy when filled, to lift each week and take to the sink. And, of course, I needed to by a backup filter because I had no idea how long the first  one would last. By the time I spent over one hundred and fifty pounds due to a broken flower vase and a fish in need of a new piece of aquatic real estate I was wondering why I didn’t flush him down the toilet and into a watery grave to begin with. It didn’t help either that my assistant was now in love with Pet, and couldn’t understand why I was so frustrated.

 

There is nothing about life that is free. Existence is free but life is not. Even on the most basic biological level, one has to spend calories to keep alive. Life, whether thrust upon you by a well meaning friend, or something you have to struggle to keep in possession of, is always at a cost and requires a level of responsibility. To take on a life be it child, fish, plant, or animal, is to accept the condition that you will provide the creature with best care possible, listening to its needs and watching it grow. This can be hugely satisfying but life comes at a price, even something as mild as buying a fishbowl and a few plastic plants.  There’s no such thing as a pet that requires no care, or a plant that isn’t on some level a responsibility. Even myself, who foolishly thought she would just watch someone else do all of the care-taking for a fish,  ended up taking out her credit card to ensure the fish got everything he needed for life.

 

A lot of new graduates that come through here remark that they never knew life was so expensive. What they mean of course is. . . Well, exactly what they said. That in between the food and the shampoos and the taxes and the health care, there usually seems to be very little left over. But life has a bigger expense bill than that even, it takes a willingness and effort which is hard to muster in difficult times. Life costs something.

 

Things have pretty much hit an equilibrium again with Pet. Now that I’ve bought him a proper aquarium and all the bits and bobs hopefully my bank account will have some time to recover and we can settle into a bit more of a fish care routine. I don’t think taking care of him will ever be so easy I forget he’s around but I’m not sure I want to either. I want to remember that all of life has to be nurtured and cared for, and that part of living is to care for whatever life comes your way.

Education and Denial

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

When I was in college, we had a rather odd tradition for the freshman girls. Within the first two weeks of classes, the school’s sexual health advisor would round all these starry eyed innocent first year young women up, in our pearls and sweater sets up and teach us how to use a condom. . . On a banana.

 

No one ever did explain to me why a banana was a suitable piece of practise equipment. What was wrong with the young men at our university? Nor did anyone mention the fact that trying to correct teenage boy on anything he was doing, much less while in bed, never turns out well. That night we were told about a variety of birth control options available to us and encouraged to figure out which one would be the most useful.

 

I sat there, trying to be as much of a participant as an eighteen year old with fine motor difficulties who is still very squeamish about so much of life who has been given the task of putting a condom on a banana could be given the situation. Several of my friends refused to touch the stuff, feeling morally opposed to that activity in that specifically southern superior way. The information was useless to them, they were never going to need to know about all the slutty details.

 

Part of me thought it was pretty useless for me as well.

 

Flash forward about six years and I am in a coffee shop in the middle of Glasgow. My friend is having a pregnancy scare because she forgot to take her pill yet again. This is the third time this year she has gone through this existential / life crisis and each time it serves to make her feel increasingly miserable. Out of nowhere I am reminded of the condom banana incident. There was something about a form of birth control that took no thought whatsoever, so that any fool could stay safe while on it. Scientifically speaking there is no way she is pregnant. But after eighteen hours of missing her pill, she swears she feels a baby kicking.

 

“Why don’t you get an IUD,” I suggested.

 

“What’s that?”

 

Clearly, not every college has the same university traditions that we had. And I’m not advocating that everyone should either. But it occurred to me at that point, we take in information not only to benefit ourselves but also to serve others whenever we can. I turned my nose up at learning a subject. Thankfully some of it still managed to sink in.

 

I’m not sure why within certain subjects it is human nature to avoid learning. Often we would rather sink our heads in the sand than educate ourselves or allow others to learn. Perhaps we think the issue will go away if we don’t pay attention to it. But ignorance and fear can never offer good guidance. When we refuse to learn about any subject, we willingly put blindfolds on ourselves. What is worse, we make it so there is no way we can help anyone who may be in need of info on the topic. When we refuse to learn, we make ourselves useless. Imagine if everyone who didn’t have anaphylaxis never bothered to learn to use an Epi pen, or people who could hear never bothered to lean sign language.

 

In a way, when in comes to learning, our opinions essentially don’t matter.  We can refuse to learn the facts about birth control or global warming, but assuming we are refusing to learn facts, all we are doing is going back into our small, sheltered caves, and staying primitive.

 

We owe it not only to ourselves but to the people surrounding us to humble ourselves enough to learn everything we can,  as we never know when an act of learning can lead us to an act of love.

Coming October 2013

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Expectation

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tonight is the opening ceremony for the Paralympic Games and I am one of the few people lucky enough to have tickets. If you would have told me the first time I came to London that this night would occur within eight years, I would have laughed at you. London  was very different then in its attitudes towards people with disabilities. It was still nearly impossible to get on a bus (today they are all wheelchair accessible), less than half the number of underground stations were accessible than are today, and most shockingly the Disability Discrimination Act had yet to take full effect.

 

As I have written about before, during the summer of 2004 I would go outside and feel as if I was drowning. I would get routinely ignored in stores, sales people asking those who were accompanying me what I wanted rather than asking me directly.  I can remember theaters not charging me the price of an admission ticket because they were afraid I wouldn’t be able to get to my seat. Worse, often a theatre would refuse to sell me a ticket because they claimed that my presence would pose a “health and safety hazard.”

 

For years I have worked with TFL and others to make this city more accessible for those of us in wheelchairs. There have been so many meetings where I really doubted that any change would ever come, even after London had been named the host city for 2012. I can remember pulling into Westminster Abbey to visit Willberforce’s memorial there just to tell myself that society does progress and that sooner or later the walls of oppression fall.

 

Add to all of this, that I had my own dreams of Paralympic victory when I was a kid, and it makes for a pretty remarkable event all the way around. I’m probably among the first wave of individuals who could look at adaptive athletics and wonder in what other areas could the world be stretched to become more inclusive. For me it was the arts. Last year, on the very day my play opened, London began its official countdown to the Paralympics by setting up a clock in Trafalgar Square. I could hear the cheers and excitement as I walked past on my way to the final dress rehearsal.  I knew in that moment that I had made the right choice concerning my path. But how strange is it that both paths seem to lead straight to London during this time.

 

As I wait with building expectation for tonight, I know we have a very long way to go until disabled people in London are treated in the exact same way as abled bodied people. While the Paralympics will no doubt prove to be a big step forward, this is a civil rights battle which is difficult to even chart the boundaries of, much less figure out appropriate tactics for. But I have always believed that London is a place where world changes begin, if for no other reason than it is where the rest of the world goes to for its beginnings. The nature of London is that it is the world’s city, and people from every country imaginable come here, even for a very short time, before returning to their homes. Inevitably a shift in how London treats those of us who have disabilities, will have ripples across the world. Our changes from within are only the beginning.

 

Change has come and change is coming, both within my own life and society as a whole. Waiting for the events of this evening I cannot help but admit that the struggles I have encountered in London as a result of this city’s shortcomings have changed me for the better. In this way, I am thankful for the struggles I have encountered. Few people tonight will realize as much as I do just how far we have come. I’m glad I have been able to witness it.

Lighter, Stronger, Faster

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

I had BBC Radio Three on the other day as I was working as I often do. I find it gives me the illusion of being intelligent even as I sit and stare at my blank computer screen. During the past month or so all the talk has been about the Olympics, what makes a champion, what quantifies achievement, and how to excel. Those are big words to come out of anyone’s mouth, but hearing come from the BBC is, for some reason, highly ironic. Although I’m unsure as to why.

 

During one segment, I listened to a discussion with a former gold medalist on whether or not the future Olympic records would begin to taper off, if we as humans were going to reach our limit someday of how fast we could go and how high we could jump. The former athlete answered in one word: yes.

 

This very quickly set off alarm bells in my head and my rebellious American interior monologue kicked in. No! There’s always room for improvement. Man can always do better, be stronger, faster. These were the ideas that I was brought up with. They are ingrained in me without proof, as sort of a dogmatic doctrine that repeat to myself when I don’t know what else to think. Evolutionarily speaking, do we change that quickly? Will we reach a point where we’ve hit our limit? Will human history even go on that long?

 

As I’m realising is more and more common, I have no answers, no way of getting the answers, and I don’t think anyone else does either. I suddenly begin to wonder what it would be like to live in a world were we have athletically hit our limit. Images of Bladerunner start popping into my head for some reason. Who would be our super humans once we know the limits of the human body? Would we even bother to have the Olympics and with it individual events like running?

 

I guess my heart sinks when I consider humans knowing that they have maxed out on anything because it is a stationary marker in which we can begin to quantify ourselves against other people. If there isn’t even the biological opportunity for improvement, then all of the sudden, the bar is set and not going anywhere. We have a definitive measurement of how fast can a human go, and at what point will man have maxed himself out.

 

Those of us who are competitive within ourselves would, no doubt keep running, actively seeing just how close to that biological standard we can get. But there is a certain type of competitive persons, who only care about how they rank up compared to other people, not seeing improvement in themselves. When the top athlete is ranked and its been scientifically proven that there is no further to go, is that competitor willing to do what it takes to be yet another king of the mountain?

 

This olympics I have a bit of a different outlook than I had in the past. I think that the trails and successes I’ve had in the arts over the past four years have altered my thinking slightly. It is always within my nature to want to be at that very top, to be that unreachable star which everyone admires. But I have learned, as an artist and as a person, very slowly, that if you are truly committed to  a craft or a skill, you’ll always want to do your best, even when there is no one else watching. Whether it be in the rehearsal room or on an early morning jog, being able to hold oneself accountable is the first step in achieving excellence.

 

I hope I never see a day where there is no more opportunity for improvement. To me, that’s like giving up on living all together. If that day were to come, it’s hardly as if I would be anywhere near the edge of the spectrum of elite athletes, so it’s not as if the news would affect me at all. The race set before me is unlike that of any other man’s, and that is  the one I must focus on. It may bring me to the eyes of millions or it might be a struggle that only I am aware of, but without a doubt, it pushes me far beyond what I ever knew my capacity to be.

Flooded with Greatness

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The BBC has been, as one may expect, taken over by the Olympics. Every event possible is to be shown, every highlight, every summation, and why not. It has been over sixty years since the games have been here, and the city has been preparing for this fortnight for over seven. As a city we’ve worked hard, we deserve it.

 

I was at the market yesterday, and I saw a few people about speaking in foreign languages and shuffling through their binders like mad. They had they olympic badges around their neck which read “athlete” or “coach” and each of they still looked sheepishly lost and confused. Ducking in and out of stalls myself, looking at my list and trying to figure out what I needed next, there was still a little voice in my head that said “hey, that’s a world class athlete and she looks as bewildered as I feel.

 

Ever wonder what is the universal appeal of the Olympic Games? It’s not the world class athletics, or seeing the most exciting football game of the year. Even the people who aren’t die hard sports junkies can’t help but be whisked away by the excitement of it all. Indeed, you have to be a complete misanthrope not to be inspired by this sort of drama, for greatness inspires greatness.

 

To see the someone who is the best at something, not to mention seeing a whole slew of elite athletes who are at the top of their field, competing and rising to the occasion, always makes us think of our own capabilities and limitations. But it is not the gold medals or the broken records which inspire us. It is the stories, of perseverance, of sacrifice of loss and redemption, which turn would be Gods into humans, and cause us, in turn, to stretch beyond what we think ourselves are capable of, which makes these two weeks every four years so magical. It is the actions taken during the struggle, not after the victory, which is illustrative of the triumph of the human spirit.

 

I was still very young when the USSR lost its grip on the iron curtain, allowing its former citizens to see freedoms which were only dreamt of a generation before. During the 1992 Olympics, the stories of the athletes who struggled for so long in the Soviet Union were so inspiring, that they are still with me today. Struggle is something that every human has to face, it is the velvet hammer we all can choose to learn from, and it is within understanding the struggle of these athletes, that even someone such as myself, can relate to the Olympics. What makes athletes great is not how fast they can go, or how high they can jump but rather the obstacles and barriers which had to be torn down in order to reach these achievements. If it weren’t for gravity, nobody would be impressed by an event such as the high jump.

 

Its be awhile since London has had so much hope and victory in it. London is a great city to be sure, but in the daily struggle and grind, the spark of overcoming often gets lost. Having an event such as the Olympics allows us all see an undeniable greatness and source of victory in our guests. From that recognition, it is an easy realisation to know that we are made of the same stuff, and have the same capabilities within ourselves.

The Best Face

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

London this week is… very clean. Cleaner than I’ve ever seen it in fact. Those of us who live around the dock marvel every time we go outside as we see city workers scrub mould out of places we had no idea mould would grow. Then we watch the river water spay up in the sunlight and think how quickly mould grows on this island. But at least it’ll be clean for the Olympics.

I didn’t realise how clean the city was until I left for a few days and then returned. As I drove into the city and through the Isle of Dogs, my jaw dropped as I saw the windows sparkle in a world without graffiti. How was this even possible? Was this my London?

It’s rare in urban life for everyone’s mind to be focused on the same thing. About the only time it does occur is in the face of some tragedy or disaster. When Michael Jackson died in 2009, everyone wanted to hear his music. There was, of course, the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings. But this is clearly different. Anticipation and excitement is in the air, people are more hope filled than I have ever known them to be. As it is now the first bit of sunny weather in weeks, everyone at the pub and around town is ecstatic. Here, today, its the closest to heaven I’ve ever been, or, at the very least, I’ve stumbled upon the version of London which was in Mary Poppins.

In town there are wet paint signs everywhere, to the point that I actually need to start paying attention when I walk down the street so I don’t ruin my dress. I hear people whistling as they work, and then they throw away their trash with, I kid you not, a slight skip in their step.

The thing is, London doesn’t really need to show off to visitors. It has always been a magical place and it alway will be. Those who don’t live here can’t help but romaticize the red buses and telephone booths. For better or worse, it is a place of kings and queens, Dickens and Darwin, as well as everything else you think of when the name “London” is uttered. So many ideas, art, opportunity is all here, waiting to be used.

But it is those of us who live in this city, who are most prone forget or even neglect its remarkable properties. The daily disappointments and rejections which are inevitable anywhere come more frequently in a place where so many qualified people are packed into one place, weigh on the spirit. The grey skies dull the senses and brings the forgetfulness of mundane living. Crossing London Bridge seems to be the most aggravating thing in the world if you’re in the middle of morning traffic. We all forget where we are, and how many blessings are on our doorstep until we see the council workers scrape the mould of the docks and whistle.

Whenever we attempt to impress others we are invariably attempting to impress ourselves as well. Perhaps we have, as a city, forgotten what it’s like to be impressive. Its the newness of having to put forth an effort that has ultimately created wonder. We are all at the top of our game because the world is watching and sending those at the top of their game to our city. Excellence brings excellence.

Of course there will be disappointments, there always are in the grandest events. But for this week, its a little bit like that time before christmas, when you can still imagine that you’ll get everything you’ve wanted and reality hasn’t set in yet. Hope, excitement, and aspiration fill the air waiting for it all to begin, and hoping we’ve cleaned ourselves up enough in the meantime.

The Speed of Life

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

When did life start going so fast ? I think back to my high school days, where the days seem unending waiting for the bell to ring to mark out the hours over and over. The years went by then at the rate that years should go by, not like now. Now the seasons melt into each other, barely touching their climax before the next one starts. Sometimes we say “where was summer… what happened to winter” as if those months never happened at all. But they did happen, we just weren’t paying attention. Maybe that’s just the nature of adult life, it speeds up and slips away when we aren’t looking.

I’ve lived in the flat where I am now for three years. In many ways I feel that nothing as changed, I’m still flaying around as a young adult, having no idea what I’m doing with my life. My friends back in the US are married, popping out kids and putting down roots like it’s their job. I can’t relate to the people I went to college with anymore. They are in a race to get out of Neverland, shutting the doors to young adult living and making their own Wendys and Michaels. And I’m still living with the pirates, happy to be working side by side with a quay full of Peter Pans feeling no need to move on.

In other ways everything has changed in my life. Internal changes may or may not be recognised by my friends but I can tell that something from within me has shifted. I’m less afraid of conflict, more of a loaner ready to work solely on my own stuff, not seeking anybody’s approval but my own. These are massive shifts that alter the geography of the entire world, unnoticed by outsiders. There are none of the worldly markers that suggest a change, an improvement. No engagement ring, no new car, not even a title. People ask ‘do you work?’ And I explain what I do. And they look at me asking again “but do you have a job?”

We all are looking for improvement, a measuring stick that goes forward year after year pointing to the peak of our lives. But what they do not tell us, in the classroom or the as the subtitles attached to our day dreams is that life, in all its forms and variations, simply does not go in a straight line. We cannot constantly move forward or else we run the risk of catching vertigo, not knowing where we’ve come from or where we are going. Just like anything else, we need times of dormancy and stagnation, growing in seeming stillness as everything else seems to pass us by.

A small girl runs into the victorian dinning room where I am working. My papers spread out, my water bottle half empty and ideas hanging in midair making no sense what so ever. To her a year is a lifetime and a lifetime a year. Does she know that life speeds up so fast that it seems to pass us by until we feel we will never move forward again.

No, she does not know any of this, or else she knows that none of it matters. The external signifiers of success and adulthood moves away like leaves in the wind. What she knows is that a table makes the perfect fort, that little girls are supposed to have big dreams of being princesses and ballerinas at every age… and that I am the person to go to when looking for someone to dream along side her.

Blacking Up

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

“How do you feel if…” I brace myself knowing the question that is about to come. This question was actually the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of getting me to leave  drama school in 2007. I refused to give an answer and my teacher pushed further than was altogether needed. So I waited for the punchline my insides groaning.

 

“How do you feel if you see a non disabled actor playing someone with a disability?” My friend is a West End veteran and has played a huge range of roles, many of which are disabled in their own ways. Now he is toying with the idea of putting a character from Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida in a wheelchair for the sake of an interesting artistic choice and it seems he is coming to me for absolution.

 

Now, the fashionable whims of political correctness dictate that I am horrified by this suggestion, that I find it barbaric and akin to white people blacking up for minstrel shows. I am supposed to, as a disabled actor and as the zeitgeist of our day demands, throw myself from the top of the stairs and thus fall into a martyr’s coma because I protest to such ridiculous discrimination.

 

Problem is, I don’t find it discriminatory at all.

 

The people who are insulted by such practices say that it’s akin to a white actor blacking up to play a role such as Othello or any other piece meant for a dark skinned character. Their argument then extends that having an abled bodied actor in a disabled role in turn takes employment away from an actor with a disability. But this of course assumes that disabled people are being employed in the industry in the first place, which they aren’t. So how can their be jobs “taken away” from actors with disabilities when there are no such jobs out there in the first place? Furthermore, if we were to pass a law saying all disabled characters must be played by actors with disabilities (which seems to me to be the definition of censorship, something that artists are not really known to react well to) we wouldn’t have more disabled actors employed to play Richard III. There would simply be less productions of Richard III. 

 

The entire point of acting, and let’s not forget we are talking about an art, not a matter of employment law, is to relate to the human condition, specifically elements of the human condition you are normally excluded from, better. The actor than has the job of bringing the story to life in a clear concise manner so that the audience then can relate to a story they would not otherwise be able to relate to. An actor, therefore, plays not what he is, but what he could be. We do not seek out bi-polar people to play bi-polar characters, or real cancer patients to play characters with cancer.  If we said that straight actors could only play straight characters, and gays gay characters, many sects in this industry would be in a real mess. But in exploring what we as humans can be, it helps us understand what we are, and the dizzying condition of being human. Disability is part of humanity, a very integral and unavoidable part in fact. Every actor will have his body fail him and indeed the most physically capable of us are simply waiting for the day where the frustration of disability dictates our boundaries rather than our own drive. Weakness and vulnerability form the very core of the human condition. As artists, this is the centre we strive so deeply to touch, and even on our best days, none of us do it particularly well.

 

The reason why white men performing in dark face is so insulting, is because it is a

tradition brought out of minstrel shows. The actors who ‘blacked up’ were seeking to perpetuate offensive stereotypes which would then perpetuate racism, not find the truth of a character. There is no such tradition that is the disability equivalent. An actor who plays a character who is paralysed from the waist down, if he carries out his craft well, can only seek to discover what life is like with a disability and then show what that life is like to the rest of the audience. This performance serves only to inform and provoke, not to insult and degrade.

 

I believe that individuals with disabilities should be incorporated in mainstream productions, clearly. I wouldn’t be an actor if I didn’t. And I can’t wait for the day that seeing a disabled actor on stage is commonplace. But strong arming artists by enforcing quotas and censorship is not going to foster the creativity and boldness we are looking for. This insistence is only a cheap trick to avoid the real work needing to be done in order to make such equality a reality. The matter is one of captivating hearts and pushing the limits of imagination, not making demands and limiting performers. And the only way to do that is to tell great stories, make the sacrifices it takes to be the best artists in the field, and create extraordinary work even if it seems no one is looking.

 

Anything other than that, and I’m not interested in inclusion in the arts.

An Investment in Imagination

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Last night I woke up with a start. For the past few days I’ve been trying to get interested in a new television program which seems to be all the rage on both sides of  the Atlantic. Its a fresh story, high drama, incredible talent… And is now keeping me up at night. This is not a good sign at all.

 

The show isn’t particularly scary. A bit gruesome perhaps but not anything that should be  waking me up in the middle of the night. And then it hits me full on. If I continue to watch this show, its going to be very bad for my imagination.

 

To feed the imagination is like any other diet, what you put in is in direct correlation to what comes out of it. If I put trash into my imagination by reading crummy books or watching plotless films, then that is the type of stories I’m going to create. Feeding and investing in imagination is something that most artists are terrible at. Its like we forget that inspiration doesn’t come from ourselves, but within what we find, or at least choose to find in life. We creators are simply conductors and translators to what is around us, there’s nothing particularly passive about it. So we go around wasting our days, watching trash that doesn’t make our brains think too hard.

 

The television program I’ve been watching isn’t trash, in fact it is one of the most critically acclaimed shows on TV today. Any writer who can come up with this kind of high intensity story, should be lauded. As an actor I would commit murder to be on an episode. But, after three episodes of the program I can see its flaws. And at the end of the day, I don’t want to write a piece of work that is reliant on gore and decomposition to tell a good story. I’m not even sure why, that simply isn’t the work I wish to create.

 

An artist by default must be proactive and cautious about what he sees. We, more than any other generation, have so much access to so many stories. From films to the news to even commercials, we are saturated by stories and other forms of expression nearly every waking moment. And like any other cultural movement stories are not created inside a vacuum. All the other pieces of work being produced affects the marketplace in which your story will eventually be told. Every story you hear influences you. And if a story is supposed to be an expression of you, any story you hear influences the stories you create.

 

Which is not to say we should shut our eyes and ears to stories, shunning the ones which are below our standards. Indeed, one can learn just as much about playcrafting from a bad play as from a Tony Award winner. (Sometimes those plays can be one in the same.) But does mean being aware, knowing that how I invest in my imagination will influence what it turns out. And it some cases, it’ll clog up my imagination altogether by ensuring I don’t produce work, either because I stay hypnotised by someone else’s story, or because I don’t get enough  rest to write my own. Regardless of which it is, not creating work is assured.

 

There are certain productions, works of art, stories, that I am willing to go the extra mile for. If there is a particularly notable show in town or exhibition in an area that is very hard to get to, I’m going to pay the extra money it takes to see it. Such investments in my imagination are almost always worth it.  But like any other investment portfolio, just because a stock is popular doesn’t mean it is a good investment. This TV show may indeed be the best in production, it might even tell a great story, but that doesn’t mean it is made of the stuff that I want going into my own creative works.

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