Tag Archives: future

Here We Go Again…

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Hello, lovely reader!  Are you enjoying March so far?  You do look well, I must say.

Last year I devoted about 96% of my time and energy to one project: Tumbling After at the Edinburgh Fringe.  It was an amazing experience, an enormous learning curve, and a privilege to be part of.  However, because devising a physically experimental, relationship-centred show with extensive character development and a seven-month rehearsal process was somewhat draining, I made a foolish mistake.  I made a sweeping statement to many of my friends and loved ones: “If I ever talk about directing a devised show again, punch me in the face.”

Dear reader, I am about to be punched in the face by everyone I know and love.

The problem with my sweeping statement is threefold (“Joey had reasons.  They were threefold.”):

  1. Just as when you are drunk, grieving, angry or ill, you cannot be trusted to make life decisions when you’re working on a Fringe show.  It’s a ludicrous idea.
  2. All theatre involves some element of making it up as you go along, so to disregard devising entirely was not a clever idea.
  3. No one should ever make sweeping statements, let alone an exaggeration-prone theatre director with a severe caffeine dependency problem and an appalling short-term memory.

So it should be no surprise to anyone that I have once again embarked on a show that will involve devising.  Line up with your boxing gloves, kids.

I am already very excited about this show, because I genuinely think that it will be fascinating (to make and watch, hopefully).  The show is called A Year From Now, and the premise is as follows:

Anyone can answer the question “where do you see yourself a year from now?”  Not everyone will necessarily want to answer: many of my esteemed colleagues from the creative sphere will have answers ranging from “oh GOD, I don’t KNOW” to “Living in a box under London Bridge.  Shurrup and leave me alone.”  However, the fact remains that anyone who is old enough to talk can consider their future existence, and my producer (the irrepressible Kate Goodfellow and the amazing mind behind Tumbling After) and I want to interview people, get some answers and build a show around them.

Kate and I have assembled a cracking cast and are currently in discussions about a fantastic venue in central London.  We can’t go into too much detail yet, but if you would like to be interviewed, please let us know.  We want as many contributions as possible from all kinds of people, and we are very excited about the answers we might get.

That’s all for now.  Have a wonderful Thursday.

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True, But Not Useful

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Happy February, lovely reader.  How is 2016 treating you so far?

I realise that I’m a bit late to discuss this, but today I want to chat to you about new year’s resolutions.  I think I’ve told you before that my friend Paul and I observe a slightly strange tradition: every year, we write five new year’s resolutions on coffee stirrers, and then play pooh sticks with them on the Hungerford Bridge.  Our vague/specious/utterly unprovable premise is that whoever’s pooh stick comes out the other side of the bridge first is most likely to succeed in their resolution.  Yes, we think it’s silly as well.  But what is friendship about if not exuberant silliness?*

The slightly more mature aspect of our annual custom is that we always talk our resolutions through before we write them.  Paul and I have been friends for a very long time, and our relationship allows us to be very honest and compassionate with one another.  We talk each other out of insanely ambitious ideas (“You can’t write an entire novel in a year.  You have to sleep and eat at some point.”) and we encourage each other to pursue things that we will enjoy. (“Write one about archery.  You love archery.”)

Every year we sit and assess the choices we made twelve months ago, and we try to work out what effect they have had on our lives.  If we fail to stick to a previous resolution, can (and should) we roll it over to this year?  If we try our best at something that doesn’t pan out, is sadness a good enough excuse to let it go?  How vague are we allowed to be about the fact that, underneath all of these promises to ourselves, we would basically just like to be happy?  And rich, ideally?

As he ages, Paul is becoming incredibly wise (which sounds insane to those of us who remember him at university), and this year as we sat and wrote our resolutions he advised me to approach things as either true or useful.  For example, there’s no point in making a resolution like “I will not fall madly in love with someone who is bad for me”, because it’s usually based on something that is true but not useful, such as “I have in the past fallen madly in love with people who were very bad for me, and I got hurt”.  And how the heck are you supposed to predict something like that, anyway?

It is important to know the difference between what is true and what is useful, my lovely reader.  It may be true that bad things have happened to you, but it is not useful.  It may be true that people have hurt you, but that is not useful either.  It may also be true that you have made mistakes in the past, but guess what?  It ain’t useful.  Thinking about your future plans under the umbrella of previous pain is negatively reactive, and your future should be all about being proactive.  God, I sound pretentious.  Sorry about that.

But the point stands: your future is an exciting thing, and what you decide to do with it should be based on how fabulous you want to feel, not how much negative stuff you want to avoid.  And I implore you, you lovely thing: be excited about the future.  Don’t be scared of it.  It’s only a metaphysical concept of an aspect of the fourth dimension, after all.

Also, have your favourite dinner this evening.  You deserve it.

*It’s also worth pointing out that last year Paul won with a devastating 4 sticks to 1, which corresponds almost exactly with how our resolutions panned out in 2015.

Growing Pains

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Happy Friday, lovely reader!  How are you?  Shall I stick the kettle on?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that we don’t know what we’re doing.  This applies to all aspects of life, including Zumba classes (left step right step turn step jump step trip over your own shoelace step) and the bigger questions like “where is my life going?”, “how do I find happiness?” and “will I ever achieve my goals?”

I had a small meltdown this week about those questions – although it turns out that Zumba is actually a lot of fun, and it’s ok to fudge your way through the trickier moves – and turned to a friend of mine who is in a similar position, i.e. in his mid-twenties with a passionate desire to succeed but no clear idea of how to do so.  When we boiled the issue down to its essentials, we decided that no one knows what they’re doing at our age, and that we’re not really supposed to.  This made me ask another scary question: “when are we supposed to know what we’re doing?”

We have all been brought up to believe that the older, wiser and taller people around us know what is going on: teachers, parents and older siblings have all made it clear to us that they can be trusted to know what they’re doing.  This led us to believe that one day we will know what we’re doing, too.  But when is this elusive day of understanding?  At what age should we be waking up and saying to ourselves, “I’m pretty sure I’ve got the hang of this ‘life’ thing now”?

I have friends my age (or thereabouts) who are teachers, home-owners, paramedics, married, producers, in possession of a pension plan, and even parents.  They are, as far as the world is concerned, sorted.  But internally they worry just as much as people who are unattached, students, renting flats, between jobs or between life ambitions.  In many cases, their external lives have little or no relevance to their internal persona.  My own mother, who has five grown-up children and a life-long teaching career, admits that she doesn’t feel like an adult most of the time.  (I can believe that.  For starters, her ridiculous sense of humour completely belies her actual age.)

So what hope do we have, if our apparently grown-up friends and actually grown-up parents do not think of themselves as sorted, respectable adults?  Are we doomed to feel a bit lost and uncertain for the rest of our lives?

The short answer is: yes.  The long answer is: yes, but that is actually a very, very good thing.  When we have everything that we want in life, we stop looking for anything else.  We stop pursuing new ambitions, pushing ourselves to achieve and chasing after our goals.  Not knowing what we’re doing is scary, but it also motivates us to keep looking, and to keep finding things to learn about and enjoy in the world around us.  Essentially, happiness and feeling ‘sorted’ is fine, but it doesn’t open your mind or make you grow.  Uncertainty, ambition and passion make you keep going.

It almost doesn’t matter whether we find the elusive feeling of knowing what we’re doing.  As long as we keep looking for it, we will be learning new skills, travelling to new places, meeting new people and trying to be the best possible versions of ourselves.  Pursuing that feeling is what shapes your attitudes and makes you a fascinating person, and if you really think about it, being interesting is much more important than being a ‘proper grown-up’.

Right, kettle’s boiled now.  Could you grab the milk out of the fridge, please?

The Death Tag

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Happy Hallowe’en, dear reader!  Have you got enough Haribo in for the trick or treaters?

Flying in the face of my Catholic upbringing (just for a change), it turns out that I quite like Hallowe’en.  It was inevitable, if I’m honest: the combination of dressing up, sweets and silliness is a drama graduate’s DREAM.  I also quite like introspection and morbid scheming, so I have decided to use today’s post as an opportunity to do “the death tag”, which my dear friend Ash alerted me to (and covered in this vlog).

1) How do you want to die?
I suppose most people want to die in their sleep, surrounded by loved ones, when they’re old and ready for death etc.  I would like that, but if I’m completely honest I would prefer a more dramatic departure, like the end of Thelma and Louise or Moulin Rouge.  (It’s the drama graduate thing again.)  What I would like more than anything is to die in a really stupid and/or amusing way, so that my demise would make a good story.  E.g. I want my last words to be “Oh look, a tiger.  Here, kitty kitty!”

2) What will happen to your WordPress?
It will serve as a reference point for my friends when they argue about what I would have said/wanted in a certain situation.  For example: “Vicki would NEVER wear pink shoes.”  “Uh, I refer you to blog #347, where she states in paragraph 12 that she would absolutely love some cerise flip flops.  BOOM.”  (FYI I would absolutely love a pair of cerise flip flops, so that solves that one.)

3) Who will you leave your money to?
If I may answer your question with a question: what the hell is ‘money’?!

Seriously though, if this question is about what you want to happen to your most valuable assets, then the items in question will be my books.   Their combined value is probably hovering somewhere near the 37p mark, but they are my favourite possessions.  They will go to my lovely friend Louise, who is the only person I’ve ever met who is as obsessive about books as I am.  If Louise pre-deceases me (horrendous thought), then I give my brother permission to turn my books into a fort.

4) What will happen to your body?
This Friends clip sums up EXACTLY how I feel about this question.

5) What do you want your funeral to be like?
A day at the seaside.  Probably Brighton.  Rounders on the beach and arcade games on the pier will be compulsory.

6) What will you miss the most that will exist after your death?
Well, I hate to be pernickety, but being dead will sort of preclude me from missing anything at all, won’t it?  But ok, I get the point of the question.  I think that teleporting will probably be a thing one day (my ignorance of the science behind it notwithstanding), and I would hate to miss out on that.  Can you imagine?  “Tuscany’s supposed to be lovely at this time of year.”  “Oh, really?  Shall we go?”  “Why not?  Let me just grab my sunglasses.”  ZAP.  Fantastic.

7) How will you want to be remembered?
This is the big one, isn’t it?  How we are remembered seems much more important than where, when or how gently we go into that good night, I suppose because it’s the factor that we can most easily affect while we’re alive.
I want what we all want: to be thought of with love by people who knew us and respect by people who didn’t.  I want my loved ones to grieve but eventually move on, and I want an obituary that makes me sound like a saint.  I also (slightly less realistically) want the world to say that my death heralds a great loss for the theatrical world.  I want my tombstone to say something heartfelt and meaningful, like a quotation from The IT Crowd.
Most of all I want people to tell anecdotes about the dumbass things I did while I was alive, because Lord knows there are plenty of those.  I want my friends to say things like “oh God, do you remember when Vicki locked herself in the porch?” and laugh about it.  I might not leave much money or fame behind, but I can at least leave a mildly ludicrous legacy.

Have a suitably spooky Friday!

Palm Reading and Face Writing

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Hello, and a very merry Bank Holiday Monday to you!  How’s it going?

Our lives are composed of a bizarre mixture: routine tasks and brand new experiences.  We spend our time carrying out the same objectives day after day, adding a twist of new faces, places and events at the same time.  For example, this weekend I spent a delightful afternoon with two of my favourite friends (standard), and had a palm reading (new one).  I indulged in a spontaneous night out that included drunk dialling (standard but no longer acceptable at my age), and did the ALS challenge this afternoon (for the first and categorically last time).  I hope that your weekend has been a similar combination of old and new, although perhaps not with quite the same ingredients as mine…

So.  Palm reading.  Bit of a weird one for someone like me, who is very much with Dara O’Briain when it comes to this stuff like this.  I was brought up Catholic, so I’ve never really been exposed to much astrology and suchlike.  I also have an automatic mistrust of anyone who claims that payment is necessary for a spiritual experience.  I’m looking at you, Scientologists.  

The reason that I decided to go for a palm reading was because my friends were going, and I thought it might be fun.  I may not believe in psychics, but I was intrigued about what the palm reader would say (or what my hands would say, I guess).  It was a bit hit and miss: apparently when I get married it will be forever, I will have two children and I’m going to go to New Zealand at some point.  So far so funky.  There was a bit of a sticky moment when the woman tried to tell me that I was a designer and I had to gently explain that I can barely draw stick figures, and her ideas about my current love life were frankly baffling, but other than that a lot of what she said made sense.

When I say “made sense”, I don’t mean that I will now become a fully signed-up psychic fan; I mean that the observations she made about me as a person were fairly accurate.  Obviously she picked up a lot from my body language, demeanour, facial expressions etc. rather than just the lines on my palm, but there is something quite interesting about a complete stranger being able to identify certain things about you based on one meeting.  It may not be psychic, but it is a bit spooky.

As I said, life is a mixture of old and new, but while we’re running around living our lives we sometimes forget that our past and present (but probably not future) can be extremely evident to other people, even if they don’t know us personally.  In No Country for Old Men, one of the characters is convinced that our past is all we really are: “You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday don’t count. But yesterday is all that does count. What else is there? Your life is made out of the days it’s made out of. Nothin else.”

Our lives are written in our faces and actions, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  If we keep pushing ourselves to experience new things as well as getting on with our usual routines, we can always make our future selves look different to the way we look now.  

I’m off to finish packing up my books (5 crates down and I’m still only halfway through.  This is not going to end well).  You have yourself a truly magical Monday.