Thursday, 30 August 2012

Now for our rookie year

Well I've nothing much to report today, largely due to the fact that I didn't get out much yesterday, apart from the obligatory Wednesday trip to my counsellor. It's been over a year now, and I now look forward to my weekly talks with Joe. Gone are the days when I would spend half of our session dragging myself up Tooley street, legs like lumps of lead, with fear and trepidation in my heart. What demon will I discover today? I used to think. These days I can say with some pride that, with the help of Joe, I've got some of the more self destructive parts of my personality firmly on the ropes. But I still keep going, after all, you never know when they'll come back (cue dramatic chords).  This blog, in fact, is part of the process. It's attempt to overcome procrastination and a crippling sense of perfectionism that stops me completing anything at all.

Joe is a dude that goes off to do snowboarding as well as meditation and I've grown fond of him. (The obligatory phase of rejecting and resenting one's healer seems to be firmly behind us). There is one striking feature of Joe for me. He's many years my junior, in fact most people I meet in my working life are. I was sitting in one of the great talks at this years Edinburgh Fringe about touring and producing theatre work, and a quick scan around the room revealed that I was definitely the oldest person there. Depressingly enough that was also true of the panel of experts that stood before me as well. I did spot the back of one head covered in grey hair. Maybe I was not alone. I wanted to introduce myself and had fantasies of starting a sort of middle aged newbies support group, but after the session he seemed just to steel away like a thief in the night. He probably had child care issues to deal with. Fair enough.

No I'm not saying that there shouldn't be any young talent giving it a go, but you would expect to see a few more forty somethings doing new things. Well more than two anyway. It seems that our status in life is firmly governed by our age. You are either young and emerging, or old and experienced. There seems to be little room for old and emerging, even though, in reality this means old, emerging AND experienced. I've just started to work the London cabaret scene again, after a break of many years, and I get a palpable feeling of being massively prejudged. It feels like if you are my age (I'm 48, not ashamed to admit it) and unknown then you are assumed to be an untalented amateur until you prove otherwise.

Of course I can't blame this all on ageism. People of my age have the wisdom of experience and you would think that it would make us leap ahead of the competition. Newton's laws however seem to kick in and the equal and opposite reactions of emotional and intellectual baggage take over. I guess my work with Joe these days is not to stop me weeping uncontrollably whilst doing the washing up, or not getting out of bed until four in the afternoon (thankfully, those days are over), but to lessen the constricting force of my baggage so I can actually get on with stuff. And it seems to be working. I spend all of yesterday setting up this blog, and also writing and designing the monthly newsletter the our nine (now ten!) fans of The Royal National Theatre of Fools. I confess that I got quite obsessed with that one, even though it's timed to go out next Monday. Grisel gently and lovingly covered my eyes at midnight and suggested that I might like to stop work and come to bed. I hope that I'm not developing an addiction to work. I've thankfully never had that neurosis before.


Mike Raffone is the co founder of the production company howhow along with his fiancĂ© Grisel Tarifa. They hope to open a new performance club The Royal National Theatre of Fools in Peckham in the winter. It will be dedicated to the clown, the absurd and the eccentric. Go to http://www.howhow.co.uk/#!national-theatre-fools/cozg to subscribe to the monthly newsletter that Mike toiled so hard to create

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