Month: April 2017

The Daily Backstage; A Road Not Taken

WWW.MRSHANEWEBB.WORDPRESS.COMOk so – in my last note I mentioned to you guys that I was taking some time out. That it was for the best, that it was needed and necessary. I do need a recharge, and a space to sit back and breathe. Take stock of my life and goals. That’s really hard to do when you’re in the middle of anywhere from one to three shows at a time. Plus all of the other stuff I end up doing. Standing on committees, starting new endeavours, writing, exploring, training etc… It all gets a little hectic.

I felt really good about it – that it was the right thing to do. Then .. it happened. A fairly major show has had the community rights released for the first time in YEARS.

*cough* Les Mis *cough*.

I felt pretty good when the auditions were announced. Javert is fairly high on my list of roles to play, but I figured “Shane – there are going to be other companies doing the show. Relax. Take the time. You’ll be fine.”

Which, lets face it – is true.

Then the cast announcements started to trickle out. And .. I still felt good. But it was less “totally fine – do you guys wanna go get a coffee” and more … “nah .. that’s good. It’s good that they did that. Yeah … good. *eye twitches*”

And it is – I am so super happy and stoked for every single person who auditioned, regardless of the roles they got or not. Throwing your hat in the ring and auditioning is an amazing feat. It is nothing short of an extraordinary feat of human will power. For the people who were cast I am even more pumped! It’s Les Mis!!! Yes! That! Go you good things!

The voice that I am now contending with is entirely my own, and has nothing to do with anyone doing auditions or landing roles. It is, in part, that feeling of eyeing off the clock and knowing that my years are swiftly spinning out (yes – perhaps a touch dramatic). There is also that feeling that if I fail to try for an opportunity then I will miss “the moment” that takes me to the next level of my career, or advances me as a performer, or gives me the chance at “the part” that I have always wanted. This is similar to what I was talking about in my post about chasing cars, about wanting to chase down all of the opportunities, and filling my time doing all of the things that I want to do, lest I miss my chances.

It can be onerous.

I wonder if we are all perhaps a little like that. Trying to jump headfirst into everything that comes our way. Feeling that guilt of a road not taken, like a lodestone for the soul, pulling you away. A tiny moment of “what if” thrown in for good measure.

Almost like clockwork – I leaped straight away to get the number for new singing teachers, looking at dance lessons, new eating plans, new workout methods, and curiously I went straight down to the pool that night to do laps. I quickly asked for skype singing lessons from a dear friend, and an incredible mentor, the divine Miss MM to make up the time. Chatting to her late at night about the panic, the sudden urge to pack a car and drive to … anywhere something was happening …  made me slow down and realise a few things though;

  • I had that moment of panic – perhaps not because I am missing the opportunity – but because I am aware that with a new chance to rehearse, comes a new chance for growth.
  • If I am worrying about that – am I worried that I am stagnating as a performer and a creative.
  • If I am worried about stagnation – why? What am I not doing in my day to day work to keep myself progressing? What should I be doing? Why am I not doing it?

Once I had that little revelation – it’s become quite an easy place to start drilling down. It is not at all about the road not taken, or the opportunity lost. Although the fact that I am not a superman who can run about and do 87, 000 things at once still galls me.

Taking the time out to stop and think about things, to process it through and to figure out WHY I felt the need to jump straight back in when I knew deep down that I wanted to work on other things for awhile was really telling. I have been letting myself down as a performer and there are things that I should be using my “show free” time to look at and start to address. I think in the long term, it will make me a far better creative, and hopefully a better person. Not taking something at face value is definitely something I needed to be reminded of and if there is one thing I have learned – it’s that the way I feel about something almost never has something to do with the “thing”. It’s almost always about me.

Happy Creating!

S.

2017 – the first quarter – my year so far

It has been a long time since my last post. Longer than I would have liked and certainly longer than I promised. The time has been put to good use .. of sorts. A lot of articles written. A lot discarded. A lot of planning and long sleepless nights staring at a blank bank. Unsure of my message, my point. Looking back through my articles I realise that’s not an uncommon theme at this point. I’ve been wish-washy and often vague. Letting out a handful of personal truths but offering little else of the real value that I wanted to talk about.

The intervening months have been put to good use for me I think. I did a huge show with the great team at Queensland Musical Theatre. R & H’s Carousel. A masterpiece of golden age theatre. Soaring melody lines, wonderfully drawn characters and a surprisingly dark story. Billy Bigelow is to date probably one of the most challenging and exciting roles I have had the pleasure of portraying.

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I made the decision, somewhat on the spur of the moment, to go back and study. A diploma of screen writing at the New York Film Academy. An experience that has been a steep but much needed learning curve. Painful and confrontational at times. Frustrating. Ultimately though, incredibly rewarding.

Writing for screen, cleaning up my writing in general, and embracing that side of the creative process came hot on the heels of one of the largest disappointments for me in the first quarter of 2017. I was involved with a local composer and his musical, brought in to head up the directing team after a failed first start with another company. I spend a lot of time, hours and weeks and months, rewriting and reworking portions of the show with him, weeks of auditions, advertising, meetings, set designs, lighting notes, charting the show to take it into rehearsal and ultimately (hopefully) to a successful world premier. However, at the 11th hour, after several more set backs and some creative differences the composer pulled the plug. Opting to go it alone and to try to perform the show at a later unspecified date without me. I won’t mention names of show or composer. I won’t bad mouth either of them. The people who are close to me know all that they need to know, and while the process was like pulling teeth at times, and utterly disappointing in its conclusion – I sincerely wish the project well in its future. I learned many invaluable lessons from the experience and as one of my writing lecturers would say, “get the contract first.”

I’ve taken a small step back from performing with the theatre companies in my region for 2017, I don’t even know if it was a conscious decision at the time, but upon reflection (I’ve done a lot of that lately) it is definitely for the best. Carousel and the unnamed show were enormous. They took a huge amount of my energy and focus, and it is certainly nice to have a moment to have a breath and to recharge my batteries a little. I have a handful of my own independent projects that I am working on as well, with a mind to independently produce and create throughout the year. The first of which, a concert series called Conversations, is already in preproduction.

There have been some ups and downs and I have taken some steps towards addressing, and being more open about, some of what I go through as a creative. I suffer from bouts of depression and anxiety. Most often they’re manageable. Occasionally they’re crippling. I believe that many artistic people go through this and I want to talk more about my experience with this at a later date. I’m coming into a space where I am more aware of myself, and my needs, and this has been a significant part of 2017 so far. So it warrants being spoken of here – if only briefly.

It has also given me a lot of chance to reflect, regroup, figure out my focus and my goals for the next couple of years. Getting myself a little more financially grounded, and drawing a significant portion of that from my work as an artist and a creative entrepreneur. I have had the very good fortune to have a few wonderful people come into my life lately who are able to mentor me through this process, to start to give some shape to what I actually want from this blog and from my thrival work. Shaping me through the hardest parts of the journey, from finding my why, to narrowing my focus and picking my tribe.

I already feel much more centred and focused. My creative goals not only feel clearer, they also feel closer to being a reality than ever. I have some amazing people around me, my friends and family are always incredible, I am lucky to have a wonderful team starting to form around me to help me start to take my next steps into the big wide scary world of 2017 and beyond.

I really can’t wait to share it all with you.

S.