Wednesday, 13 August 2014


Cross-posted from National Theatre Wales community. I was fortunate recently to take part in Summer Camp, a scheme run by NTW under their WalesLab programme, which supports artist development in Wales.

About half-way through Summer Camp, after a day which had been in every way - I don’t use this word lightly - perfect, I experienced the corresponding crash, the coming-down-to-earth. Nothing specific was wrong. I hadn’t fallen out with anyone. The sun was still shining (for two weeks! in Pembrokeshire!). The ocean was still there. I had a day filled with activities with people I liked and admired.

But I was tired, emotionally and physically. I’d had a perfect day, only the day before, without even trying. Perfect. These don’t come often in my life - do they come often in anyone’s? With that taste in my mouth, I was determined to push through my tiredness, determined not to waste a second. And so I did a lot that day, the day-after-perfection. I had conversations about failure, the topic of a project that I am working on. I dressed in a bright pink leotard and tutu (always dress better and brighter than you feel) and walked off a jetty into the sea while being filmed. I spent an hour dancing, moving, with a new friend; a quiet hour that left me feeling humbled by what had been shared. I spent 10 minutes having my heart broken by the raw openness in another artist’s one-to-one piece.

And in the middle of this complicated day, I sat down in my room and recorded a “message in a bottle” for myself. I keep a journal, but I had the sense that I would need emotion and nuances, the low tiredness of my voice, and the sounds of seagulls in the background - much more than words. I haven’t listened to that recording yet. I’m saving it, perhaps for a hard, dark day in February. I think it will be a reminder of the perfection that lies in glorious sunshine, and the sweet intimacy of performing, and new friendships, and good food. And it will also be a reminder of all that rushes in to the empty space left when those highs of happiness slip away (because I don’t think anyone can sustain those highs for long). I learn so much from the latter. I learned so much that day after: finding connections, finding play, finding the art in the exhaustion, and the slight throbbing headache, and the sense of obligation to others. And I think that’s a lesson that may sustain me more as I negotiate my life with the experience of Summer Camp behind me.

I am very grateful for the experience of both the perfection and the after.  Massive thanks to all who made Summer Camp 2014 happen - Simon Coates, fellow Campers, and all the wonderful NTW team who were there or who popped over to West Wales for a visit. I’d do it all again in a flash.

Monday, 14 July 2014

My Failure Project

I am interested in failure: mostly in my attitude towards failure and how this attitude affects my behaviour. So I am planning to make a one-woman show about failure. I am right at the very beginning of this project, and in addition to figuring out my thoughts on the subject, I would like to hear what other people think. 

If you are interested in helping, please fill out this survey on your own relationship with failure. I'm fortunate to have some time coming up when I will be able to think about this project almost exclusively, so if you are able to respond within the next 3 weeks, that will be particularly helpful (but replies after 3 weeks will not be too late). It's entirely anonymous. Even if I have emailed you this page directly, I won't know which response is yours. I hope this means you can be honest and open in your answers.

It's early days, so I don't yet know what shape this show will take. But there will likely be storytelling, and movement and, I hope, lots of laughter.

See you when we get there!

thanks, Catriona