In a dance piece by a leading international choreographer, the performers moved to the sound of a voice intoning the following mantra: “Dreams Freud dreamed…. Dreams Freud dreamed Freud dreamed…” It requires strength of character to keep one’s original dreams in sight. I met up with a highly skilled and talented singer friend of mine who explained why she opted to change her career focus, saying it had something to do with waking up at a particular point in life and realising that one wouldn’t have enough material comforts to show for the amount of commitment one had given to pursuing the dream.
Those of us who have stayed true to our original visions will understand what she meant. Guts, dogged determination and a willingness to believe in the importance of legacy are some of the qualities that committed artists need to keep in view, to stay focused on nurturing our creativity, skills and talents in the long term. A highly experienced theatre producer explained as much to me when she assessed the areas in which a colleague had fallen short of achieving transcendental artistic success.
In this current age, very few of us have realised that we have a lot more freedom to create work of lasting value than was the case for many of our predecessors. Gatekeepers don’t have nearly as much influence as they used to have. The fact that well connected artists can call up their friends, asking them to write five star reviews of their work for publication in media outlets is no substitute for creating magic. We all know when we’re in the presence of breathtaking work.
Some of us are destined to remain in the sector, regardless of the quality of the work that we manage to produce. Some of us are more comfortable than others with the idea of fitting into someone else’s idea of what we ought to be doing. That sort of compliance can bring benefits in the short term, but after a while, the moment passes and all that is left is the work.
It is always tempting to lose sight of what the work is for. When people complain about the dullness of so much creativity of today, it is easy to dismiss their feelings as nostalgic, but in the fullness of time, another picture emerges.