Hello, and welcome to Monday! How’s everything going with you? Did you have a nice weekend?
Today is a big day for me, because this afternoon myself and a lovely bunch of actors will start rehearsing for our Edinburgh Fringe performance of Chris is Dead. We performed the same piece last summer at the Camden Fringe and had a brilliant time, so we’re all very excited about working on it again.
The thing about returning to a project or repeating an activity is that we put a lot of pressure on ourselves (and the project) to do well. If things went badly the first time, we are determined to learn from our mistakes, but if things went well then we are wary of changing anything for fear that we lose the winning ingredient. The elements of the production that have changed since the first incarnation of Chris is Dead are largely good things: this time we have an excellent time slot, a very central venue and some nice reviews to put on our fliers. These are all great advantages, but in a way that makes us feel more aware of the pressure to do well.
I would love for this play to do well, but I’d also really like us to enjoy ourselves. There’s no point in spending a huge amount of time, money and energy on something if you’re not actively going to enjoy it. I think that it would be good for all of us to remember that it’s impossible to repeat things exactly, but that it is possible to enjoy them to a similar degree. When you think about it, that’s the perfect combination, isn’t it?
This isn’t specific to theatre, of course: people who are wary of new relationships due to previous misfortunes may find a little voice in the back of their minds saying “why bother? It’ll be exactly like last time.” Someone moving house might secretly be determined that their new place will never be as good as the old, no matter how much nicer the actual building is, and someone who risked a rail replacement bus service once knows never, ever to do it again if they can possibly avoid it.
Comparisons between things in life are inevitable, but they add a layer of pressure and stress that we just don’t need. Enjoying experiences and making the most out of every moment is a big enough challenge, so perhaps we ought to concentrate on that instead of worrying about predecessors, precedents or prerequisites. Let’s just get rid of all the “pre”s, in fact.
So, disregarding everything that past experience tells you, get out there and have a brilliant Monday. It could be the best day of the week.