This time last year I was fairly panicking. ‘Judgement day’ on a project I had been working on for months was just a week away and coming straight for me. Was I ready? Well, no. Was I prepared? Eh, getting there. Was I calm and in control of the situation? Mmmmm… Excited? HELL YEAH!
The funny thing is, it’s times like these, when I’ve taken way too much on and am trying to keep all the plates spinning, that I really feel alive. I do moan about not getting enough sleep and being exhausted but secretly I love it. I feel I’m doing something that simply won’t happen if I don’t give it all I have and the stranger the job, the better. If I find myself asking, “How on earth did I get roped into this?” I know I’m doing something right.
This particular job had taken over my life for a good chunk of the year so far and had a lot of different aspects to it. The project was conceived at a Sliabh Beagh Arts meeting where, jacked up on tea and buns, we decided it would be great idea to put on a shadow puppet play. With an original story. And music. For an audience. IN A WOODS.
Last Friday (28th June) was a day that had been marked red in my calendar for a long time, a day I occasionally thought would never arrive and sometimes wished was behind me. There’s a safety in looking back at something because, irrelevant of it being a success or a failure, you survived it – you made it through. You are then free to remember it as you see fit, editing and embellishing where necessary. That’s why I want to write this while the feeling is still fresh in my bones.
For more months than I care to remember, I have been working within a group of extremely talented and creative individuals whom I can thankfully call my friends. We outlined an art project that was to push us all out of our comfort zones. We would create a story connecting Ireland and Appalachia, drawing parallels with the peoples and the problems they face. This story would then come to life by bringing it to schools and community groups and grow to the point where it would be performed in the form of shadow puppetry, complete with narration, Appalachian music, songs and traditional ugly face jugs.
As if that wasn’t enough, we thought it would be a great idea to do this outside – in a forest – in the Irish summertime!
One day last weekend I did something I haven’t done in ages – absolutely nothing!
I can’t recommend it enough. If I had more time to kill, this is what I’d fill it with. All around that nothing, in every direction, I did things.
Those things came in the shape of murals, art tutoring, window graphics, album sleeve design and bizarrely a headstone design! Now this is all well and good but what I SHOULD have been concentrating on this last month is the impending shadow puppet play myself and a group of artists are performing in a clearing in a woods in two weeks time. It’s a massive project based on a story set in the Appalachian mountains involving several schools, choirs, a jugband and community groups.
We all have our part to play. One of the artists is in charge of music and she is teaching everyone the songs. One Hell of an undertaking considering the amount of people involved. One is in charge of building the stage, preparing the woods etc and one is making ugly jugs, again with groups of people. My role saw me writing the first draft of the story and then going to the schools to get the children involved. They helped make some of the shadow puppets and the backgrounds but I’ve still a fair amount of work to do on that front yet. Not to mention choreographing the whole thing! Gulp.
This is why I should not have done all those things I mentioned earlier and just stuck to doing this one BIG thing instead.