Creative Producer Fiona Lindsay considers the power of failure.
Last week saw us back in filming mode, recording a full day of interviews with the cast and creatives from our forthcoming production.
These interviews are usually shot within the calm sanctuary of the Savile Club, Mayfair. But this year, breaking with tradition, we opted for our very own former office in Bedford Square – on the hunch that the cold, dark basement would transform beautifully into a small film studio (one that at the time of this blog going to press, was still free to us!).
We weren’t wrong. The space was transformed to complement the design of the show and moodily lit to create an intimate atmosphere. The warmth of the lights quickly absorbed any nervous energy from those we interviewed and any frayed edges were soothed away by the reassuring bedside manner of the production team (the biscuit selection didn’t do any harm either).
With each person relaxing into talk, I was reminded exactly just what’s involved in the making of a production. In terms of the creative team - the huge amount of intelligence and artistry that a they bring to the job - and for the cast, what a fragile thing it is to make yourself vulnerable enough to fully inhabit the psychological, physical and emotional depths of another individual (albeit a fictitious one). All involved must be prepared to expose themselves, running the risk of also being exposed should the project fail.
Failure is a rude word in many walks of life. But it shouldn’t be. For as Beckett says: Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
Some of the biggest lessons we learn in life come from failing, picking ourselves up and trying again. In theatre there’s no focus on failure, it’s all just seen as part and parcel of the rehearsal process. With this outlook, such confidence builds that consequently failure isn’t ever established as a concern.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if young people in formal education were afforded the same permission? Sadly this isn’t the case and Benjamin Franklin’s mantra fail to prepare then prepare to fail seems to be a more common carrion call. Failure comes with such a stigma that the very notion of not being perfect can cripple.
This week we offer an insight into two of Ibsen’s wonderfully flawed creations of the male of the species; Oswald Alving and Torvald Helmer. Porcelain cracks appear in the body and soul of each character - with both living half-lives, due to not being able to fully meet others’ expectations, including their own. No attempt to plaster up these cracks makes a difference, they feel judged by society and infected by failure. This isn’t an uncommon predicament and Ibsen is pretty much spot on with his portrayal of individuals in the grip of inner turmoil.
I return to my common theme of the value of theatre, based on the sound working principles of the rehearsal room. Wouldn’t it be marvellous if classrooms could take on this methodology? In one fell swoop there would be an immersion in creative and cultural education, with students learning invaluable lessons just through not having to get it right.
This can’t be wrong, can it?