Saturday, January 12, 2013

creating a/broad, January 12, 2013

A Month in The Country
by Cameryn Moore

I’ve been here for a month, and most of that has been inside, partly because of the weather, namely, a record snowfall that buried my trusty car to the top of the windshield, and partly because of my phone work. I venture out for an hour or two in the afternoons, to find the post office or pick up some groceries, but  mostly I just stay indoors.

Standard winter  procedure, in other words.

I jokingly call it my “fallow time”, when I am not touring, when to all outside eyes this field lies quiescent, no crops grown or harvested, and a thick blanket of quiet waiting falls over me. 

That’s not what is actually happening, of course, but it must seem so to observers, people who are used to seeing my bang-bang-boom touring activities popping up in their faces  and all over Facebook. From a creative point of view, that is actually my down time. That field is lush and ripe and abundantly producing, but meanwhile the next field over, where I will be growing the next year’s shows, is just lying there, waiting.

I’m the newbie, I’m the carpetbagger, I have nothing to offer but my ego.

Waiting for now, in fact, waiting for winter. Winter = work. Under this layer of pajamas for days on end and “no I can’t come out tonight” and plates of buttered pasta because I haven’t gone to the store recently and can’t afford anything else, underneath all this is writing and poking and obsessing, laying out calendars and scribbling down script notes and hitting up sponsors and trying to figure out how to transfer my newest fundraising video over to YouTube. Let’s just stick with farming metaphor: the field looks still, but underneath there are these gophers, making a megalopolis of tunnels and birthing squirmy little gopher pups and come spring, when I plow it open and take the top layer off, that field is gonna ERUPT.

It feels weird, to be the field, to be hemmed in by fences and snow, to feel all this stuff going on, to have the work right here, in my brain and in my belly, and at the same time feel restrained. I’m the newbie, I’m the carpetbagger, I have nothing to offer but my ego. This is ridiculous, because I came to Montreal to work with people, to be with collaborators, to just go out there and BE FREEEEEE! (This is where you need to see me in the middle of a lamp-lit snowy street, twirling like Julie Andrews’ Maria in the Sound of Music.) I’ve never had this option during the winter, or if I did have the option, I didn’t feel like exercising it.

I forget every year that this creative fear is part of the process.

And now here I am, snow be damned. Holy shit, is there work to do. My normal process for growing a show got disrupted this year, because of moving and working with a new director and car troubles and the unavoidable loneliness of relocating to a new city. The show hasn’t been coming, and when the first draft came out, it had to be scrapped. It was a joint decision between me and my director. He pointed out the flaws, the areas for further exploration; I agreed. And I felt fear.

I forget every year that this creative fear is part of the process. It’s at a different point on the timeline this year, because of the external pressures. But it is the same every year, and THIS year, I am deciding to handle it differently, by making myself go out, making myself participate or witness performance, or find people to talk with. When the fear hits, I have to remember the resources at my disposal.

For starters, so many people here know what I do, and I know what they do, and we are familiar enough with the generic trials and tribulations of creating and performing that we don’t actually need to discuss the details. A well-timed eye roll, a laugh and sigh… it’s sufficient with friends like these. I’ve had a few intimate dinner parties like this, with new acquaintances and old friends, and somewhere in there, in the middle of the home-cooked food and a little bit of wine, I found the new title for the re-growing show.

I am seeing a show that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, and that is all grist for the mill, fertilizer for the field.

I’ve also added to the mix getting out and seeing other people’s creative efforts. Whether I have a comp ticket, or volunteer, or perform in a showcase, I have so many options for that here. One interesting side effect of seeing things for free: since I didn’t pay for it, it doesn’t matter if it sucks or not. I am seeing a show that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, and that is all grist for the mill, fertilizer for the field.

Mostly, the stuff I’m seeing is NOT shit; it’s diametrically opposite of shit. For example, I went to check out a few shows at the Wildside Festival this last week, and for a few hours every night, over a couple of nights, it was a relief to not have any room in my conscious mind to work on my own stuff; these artists straight-up dumped amazing art into my head. The conversations in the lobby at the Centaur didn’t have anything to do with what I was working on; it was just performance-supportive space, a place to be thoughtful and joyful in the presence of other people’s work. I even got a little fan-girly at one of the acts in the festival. I was thrilled to discover that yes, I can still fall in love with shows and performers; there is still room in my wintry artist’s heart for that.

Just today I found the next piece for my budding show. It hit me while I was getting on the freeway. I turned off the radio and thought and thought about it while circling the streets near the MainLine for parking. (Yes, I found my free parking.) Now I’m sitting here in a café on St. Laurent with a friend of mine. She’s working on a paper for school; I’m finishing this. But I talked to her before we got started, tried to articulate the new direction of the work. Afterward, I breathed a sigh of relief. The ground is not frozen. It might not look like it to a casual bystander, but it is SO ALIVE in here!

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