Friday, 7 October 2011

Stubbornly, fanatically follow your own way

On my last day in Cambridge, a friend gave me a postcard of this Mondrian painting (it's called Tree) and scrawled on the back, this quote from Chekhov:
Art, especially the stage, is an area where it is impossible to walk without stumbling. There are in store for you many unsuccessful days and whole unsuccessful seasons: there will be great misunderstandings and deep disappointments...you must be prepared for all this, expect it and nevertheless, stubbornly, fanatically follow your own way.
The card's been blu-tacked up above every desk I've ever had. It reminds me of discovering theatre in freshers' week when a couple of other students asked me if I'd write a play with them because they wanted a woman to write the women. It reminds me of learning about theatre by just doing it, making my own work—and my own mistakes. It reminds me of the time I hauled a coffin across town for a vampire musical I'd written and the stares I got from passers-by. It reminds me of talking about how to make plays over cinnamon toast in the buttery next to the library, and staying up all night to read The Empty Space cover to cover, like a thriller. It reminds me of a student production of Uncle Vanya that made me cry and laugh and realise theatre could make me feel things and know things before I really felt or knew them in real life. And it reminds me of that last day, with the sun shining on my endless boxes, and people popping in and out of the rooms I shared in a Jacobean building in the wonderfully-named Walnut Tree Court, where the walls were half a metre thick and the windows were leaded and you always felt like you should be wearing some kind of bodice, and knowing that in a month I'd be doing the first play I'd done outside Cambridge, the first play I'd written on my own, a Generation X melodrama called The Candy Jar, which was bad, but had a lot of heart. And hoping it wouldn't be the last play I wrote. And—despite much stumbling, and more to come, I'm sure—I'm glad it wasn't.

1 comment:

  1. This quote is a great inspiration to go on.. :-)

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