Going to the Theatre, Or Keeping My Creativity Flowing Part II

Last week I posted about the importance of having creative hobbies alongside creative work, in order to keep creativity and love of arts flowing. Thinking about it, as I thought about things I had done which inspired my creativity, I realised that there is another side of what I find useful for keeping creativity flowing and inspired, which I want to cover today.

I suggested being involved in the creation of art explicitly as a hobby, in my case by singing in a choir, on the side of “work creativity”, in order to have an outlet when work creativity just feels stressful. But on top of that, I would say it’s incredibly important to be involved in creative arts as a receiver, rather than a creator, so you remember what people get out of what you do. (And of course, because you can often be inspired by someone else’s vision and ideas).

For me, the most direct thing I can do to appreciate how incredible putting on a show is, when I’m discouraged by stresses in the process towards putting on a show, is going to the theatre to see something I wasn’t involved in creating. (Seeing the show you’ve created is also amazing, but not the subject of this post.) When I’m in Cambridge, during the University term, I’m lucky that there are at least four, often more student productions playing every week. I try to go see something every week and usually don’t manage it, but 4-6 plays a term (for an 8 week term) is quite good going, and I always feel inspired by things I go to see, even if I didn’t especially like the play in question.

Now that term is out, I’ve been to see slightly fewer plays than usual, but I have seen two very contrasting shows recently which I loved and got a lot out of seeing. On the 9th of July I went home to see my brother play Jean Valjean in the schools edition of Les Misérables, produced by Easy Street Theatre Company. A few weeks before that, I saw Legally Blonde, at the ADC theatre in Cambridge. They’re obviously very different shows, but I got a lot from both of them.

Les Misérables is a show I know backwards and which means a lot to me. My parents met a performance of Les Misérables in Paris, so if it weren’t for that show I wouldn’t even exist. I’ve been lucky enough to see it in the West End twice, and to have been in the schools edition when I was 14. I have four different versions of the musical on my iPod (the original concept album, the complete symphonic edition, which I would recommend, the second French edition, and the 2012 film edition…). I’m quite a fan, and this production by Easy  Street Theatre Company was incredible. I was a mess of tears (I kid you not, I had tears in my eyes by the dialogue 5 minutes in, when Javert gives Valjean his ticket of leave), partly of pride in my brother, who was phenomenal, but mostly because the company of under 18s managed to create incredibly touching emotional scenes. I felt that the conflict between the police and criminals treated excessively harshly was particularly poignant in the light of events around the world at the time, and I thought the company put it across very effectively, successfully showing the vision of justice represented by Javert and the idea of forgiveness represented by Valjean.

This is my brother, Thomas Baycroft, singing Bring Him Home. (Photo credit to Chris Speddings.)

Legally Blonde was an evening of huge fun. I’d never seen Legally Blonde or heard any of the songs, but I had so much fun that evening. I came out of the theatre grinning broadly and when asked, realised I couldn’t actually stop smiling. (In fact, on the way home, I started skipping instead of walking… Luckily, no one saw me.) On top of being a hugely feel-good evening, the production successfully showcased the issues the play hints at caused by the patriarchy in academia, leaving you to think about them, but without being a serious performance at all. The balance was perfect!

There are other kinds of creativity I also really enjoy receiving and making the most of, which aren’t as directly linked to what I would consider my “work” (obviously, I’m a student, so my academic work is my number 1 work for another year still, but I treat producing as a student, because it is what I want to do professionally, as formal work as well). These include listening to music, reading for pleasure (all sorts of novels, blogs, articles and discussions), watching YouTube videos of various kinds, watching films and occasionally going to art galleries and museums. (The last I do less of than I would like, but is something I hope to improve on in the coming years.)

I guess the summary of these two posts should be a reminder that it’s okay to find creativity a struggle sometimes, because everyone finds work hard sometimes, even if, like me, they are lucky enough to be working in a job they love, but that there are lots of ways to help cope with that, and remind ourselves why creative work is the best thing. One is having creative hobbies, and another is enjoying other people’s creations when they’re willing to share them with you.

Emily xxx

P.S. I start my internship at Fuel Theatre on Wednesday, and I will hopefully be blogging about it, a week behind the actual happenings (ie. This Friday will be about how I’m preparing, and next Friday will be about this week), subject to the company being happy with my telling you what I’m doing. Either way, I’d be very grateful for your thoughts and good vibes on Wednesday – I’m quite nervous.

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