Make the most of your creativity and don't be afraid to contact people you admire, writes Connie Treves.
If I could offer some advice to young people getting started in the industry, it would be to trust yourself and have faith in your instincts. It’s easy to get intimidated by everyone that is already working, but when you’re just getting started it’s good to focus on developing your own ideas and learning from those around you. It’s also important to remember that no matter where you’re at in your career, you will always be learning, regardless of what experience you might have or how old you might be. When you realise that, you can make the most of your own creativity, without worrying too much about whether you’re doing the right thing at the right time.
Pursue ideas that inspire you
When you stop thinking about what projects you should be doing, you can be freer to pursue the ideas that really inspire you. And to enjoy that process! Try and absorb as many different art forms and experiences as you can. Read, go to events, do different things, meet new people. Then give yourself time to work on things alone, to experiment, to produce things you don’t like at first and then work through that to find something you do. I like to write and draw out ideas when developing visuals for staging.
Often it can be useful to look at something in a different medium to the one you’re working in. Thinking about the ways in which photographs and paintings could be translated into gesture and movement is something that works for me, but there are so many different sources of material you could try.
Find the right team
Once you have an idea you want to share, finding a good team to work with is an excellent next step. Building networks can be really useful and not as difficult as you might think. With confidence, getting to work with established creative people can be as simple as phoning up their organisation and sending them an email or letter. If you get the opportunity to reach out to someone you really admire, show them how and why. Mention what you particularly like about what they do and ask for their advice. You would be surprised how often people are willing to engage with those who appreciate their work. It’s possible that they too got their first professional opportunity by getting in touch with one of their heroes, so it’s definitely worth a try. The process of working on my new play, The Enchanted, all got started by getting in touch with author Rene Denfeld to tell her how much we admired her novel. Just speaking with someone can be the first step on the way to making a project come to life.
Make the most of your connections
With that in mind, you should make the most of the connections you have around you as well. Collaborate with friends and other young people. Support and encourage your peers to pursue their own ideas and develop their own skills. Just speaking about what you’ve got planned with your friends can help everyone feel supported and ready to realise something they’ve just been thinking about privately. I’ve been so lucky to have the chance to collaborate with Emily Orme as movement director on The Enchanted.
We’ve learned a lot from working with each other and with the actors themselves. When you’re creating staged physical and visual content from a piece of text or a drawing, the collaborative back and forth between different players and different points of view can really help to develop and balance a final piece. So, as much as you might need to plan a practical structure for a piece of dramatic work, it’s good to leave a lot open to play and spontaneity, and the incidental product of lots of people working together and sharing their thoughts.
Be prepared for challenges
Lastly, it is good to be prepared for challenges working in the arts. Not least, financial ones. It may be a while before you can make your preferred creative career the thing that supports you. And while that’s happening, finding part-time work that gives you enough time to work on the things you’re really passionate about is key.
Also, stay positive about having limited time and resources, as sometimes these things can drive creativity. Coming up with new solutions to fix the problems you encounter, without funds or professional help, can lead to interesting artistic decisions. The most important thing is to look after yourself and those around you. Enjoy what you’re doing, and support other people in developing and enjoying their creativity as well.
Connie Treves is a Theatre Director.
Her show, The Enchanted, will be playing at The Bunker from 6 to 17 June 2017.