After not getting a job, the future

Personal, Theatre

I didn’t get a job last week. I’d reached the final stage interviews for the RYTDS, a prestigious training scheme for young directors. It was pretty gutting not to get it after coming so far, but at the same time it was very encouraging to have got that far. In the end, it seemed to come down not to abilities, skills or experience, but to my particular interests and orientations not fitting well enough with the scheme at this stage of my creative development. If that sounds too jargony (it does), it’s what I vlogged about a few weeks ago — that I’m at this crossroads between experimental and mainstream work. That my life seems to be at a point where it could head down one of two directions, and that once it’s gone that way it seems pretty hard to switch tracks. And that I’m not really sure which way I want to go.

I woke up last weekend, having completed classes for my MA, and realised that for the first time in my life I had no idea what I was going to be doing for the next year. IN MY LIFE. That’s ridiculous. But not, actually, that unusual. 13 years of school, a gap year, 4 years undergrad, 1 year postgrad. I’m utterly institutionalised, privileged, overtrained, and incapable of walking into Real Life without panicking. I know many of my peers who’ve spent their post-undergrad year working a crappy job somewhere, in horror at the hard work of the real world, and who’ve decided to run straight back to academia for a postgrad, to the welcoming arms of imposed targets and easy evaluation.

So no wonder that I’m looking for long-term institutional work, especially considering the staggering quantity of my debt. (Never again. People, do not get into debt. It is crippling. It limits your life so severely.) I’m looking for a quick fix of an overarching goal and a salary. I’m more and more scared of aimlessness, uncertainty, poverty. And yet, and yet. If I look into my heart (don’t scoff), then political, experimental theatre work is where I belong, and the fringe life, with politically-aware friends, in communal houses, in love, is where I want to be. Really. And I know that if I go too far down this institutional route, I’ll lose that, I’ll forget that, I’ll be stuck.

I wish it were easier to embrace uncertainty, stride into a future filled with potential, rather than planned dreariness. But it scares me. Everything about my societal milieu has formed me to be scared by it, if not revolted by it. I am trained to want certainty. If I’m to do this, and if people are to be empowered to discover themselves and their world on a wider scale, a political scale, then what becomes essential is the presence of support networks — friends, social centres, autonomous advice bureaus, zines, art. In the end, I guess the strength of that will determine where I’ll be.

Harry’s London Poetry Blowout Goodbye

Personal, Poetry

So I might be leaving this city for a while.

I’ve been taking an MA in Theatre Directing at East 15; that finishes at the end of the month, leaving me one MA richer and in a helluva lot of debt — I’ve basically mortgaged my future life on this degree, tethering myself to a few years of work and precious little leisure. And that means I can’t afford to stay in London unless I get a good job here — as in, one that’s not minimum wage, and that allows me to pursue my life in theatre-poetry-politics, rather than just treading water. So unless something magical happens, or unless one of the interviews I’ve got coming up for jobs in other cities gets me going, I’m going to be high-tailing it back to Scotland where it’s cheap on the 5th/6th June for a while ’til I figure things out. Breaks my heart to leave this huge, crazy, stimulating, exciting city — but I’ll be back. To live, in not too long, and for theatre-poetry-politics visits oh so regularly. As soon as I have a job.

BUT I’m not going to leave you unsatisfied. As well as the climax of the Haggle performance project, I’ll be doing four poetry gigs in one week all across London. It kicks off with a feature at Farrago (Europe’s longest running slam) near Soho next Thursday, then another at Fishbowl (multi-arts mini-fest) in Hoxton the day after, then a special emerging poets event at Keats House in Hampstead on Sunday, before rounding off, utterly breathless, at the new kid on the poetry block, Chill Pill in Bethnal Green. It’s going to be epic, exhausting, glorious. Looking forward to leaving London with a bang. See you somewhere along the way.