Tag Archives: repetition

Play It (Again), Sam

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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.

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Monopoly Tactics

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Good morning, dear reader!  How are you today?

We have very strange relationships with locations, don’t we?  Our lives are personalised Monopoly boards.  Knowing where the best pubs in your area are is like owning all of the stations, visiting our best friends is like landing on Community Chest, and our homes are obviously Go (although, sadly, we tend not to be awarded £200 every time we get there).

What’s your equivalent to owning hotels on Mayfair and Park Lane?  Where do you go each day that makes you think of picking up a Chance card?  Is there anywhere in your life that may as well be Jail?

Like a game of Monopoly, life tends to bring us back to the same places again and again. It might be a favourite coffee shop or just the place where you happen to work, but you will return to places and build up impressions of them over time, whether it’s over a few days, several months, or a lifetime.  This can be a very good thing: Covent Garden (as in the real place, not the Monopoly square) has been the location of some of my favourite moments in life so far.  I’m thinking in particular of the starry, chilly evening a few years ago, when my dear friend Mario and I went and saw the Jack Daniels Christmas tree made of barrels. We were probably on our way to the theatre or something.  Anyway, Mario got talked into buying me a rose by a very aggressive and amusing flower seller, which I dried and kept.  (The flower, not the salesman.)

Sometimes it’s hard to revisit places that hold a claim over us: places we loved to visit with friends who have long since drifted, old haunts from a broken-up relationship and even previous schools can leave us feeling a bit depressed.  The past is very much the past, and standing in the same place where they happened won’t make the good times come back.

The trick to navigating the Monopoly board of life is not to let your previous turn (as it were) dictate what you do next.  Even though we should cherish and enjoy reliving our pleasant memories of a place, we ought to be looking for opportunities to make more, not regretting the ones that have gone.  For example, I still go to the Southbank a lot.  Sometimes I really don’t want to, because I have very mixed memories of being there, but in the present day it’s usually fun, and it’s interesting, and there’s always something new to discover about it.

With that in mind, I think we should all agree to try and be optimistic about going to work today.  Who knows what new experiences we might have there?

Have an unexpectedly amusing Wednesday.