Friday, 30 October 2009

both a place and a path

A Saturday night in Finsbury Town Hall. A gypsy swing band plays. The noise and chaotic movement of a party swirls around me, but I am pinned to the side of the dance floor, feeling anxious and exposed. The night may not notice me, I think, if I stay in my chair, so that is what I do.

My friend, the Texan, moves toward me through the dancers. We sit and talk. It's one of those conversations that hovers above something large, touching down here and there for the briefest of moments. Life. Art. Work. Ourselves. It's almost a throwaway line as he heads back to the dance floor:

"You should start a blog," he says. "I'm sure you've got more to say than you think."

And so here I am.

But of course it goes further back than that. I'm an actor. I've just entered my thirties. I've always written. Poetry, at times, though not in several years. Journals, for decades (I'm in my thirties now, I can say that). Over the last few years my journal-writing has also slipped. I suffer from depression, relatively mild I suppose, considering just how debilitating the disease can be. I function. I have days both good and bad. Gwyneth Lewis, in Sunbathing in the Rain, an excellent book on her experience of depression, says
The reason why writing is so hard and frightening is that, ironically, the process requires you to abandon your fictions and face up to your own truths. If you don't do this, the form you choose will show you up as a liar.
I have not been able to face myself on the pages of my journal; it has been like standing in an empty room with mirrored walls. Perhaps writing for an audience, however small, will keep me honest. I hope in that honesty what I write may be interesting to read.

This is not going to be a blog about depression, although, being as it is such an influencing force on my life, it will feature occasionally. This will be, I hope, reflections on my experiences as I negotiate what feels like a new direction in my life. I've recently moved to Wales after several years living in London. I have ideas about how I want to develop as a performer and artist that I am beginning to explore. I love theatre and poetry and literature and cooking and being outdoors...all these are also the stuff of my life.

As a starting point: today my friend the Clown landed on my doorstep with his video camera in his hands. He has given it to me to use, with the proviso that I make a film a day, no more than a minute in length. I will see him again in a week; he expects seven short films. I know next-to-nothing about film-making...