Playwriting

Failure is Freedom: Part Three

There was a very enjoyable three part documentary this week on Monty Python. Part one was, logically, all about the origins of the group, the building blocks. There was a lot of ‘by the seat of your pants’ kind of creation, which just doesn’t exist any more in television comedy. Every thing these days is managed to the point of wisps and shadows.

In one interview Eric Idle talked about sitting in a pub, writing a joke, putting it into a cab, then looking up and seeing the joke going out live on the air. No second draft, no executives pouring over the rateability of the joke, no safety net.

Craig and I have always been a fan of Monty Python, at one point watching every evening at 11 o’clock. But we both feel that the show was in no way 100% successful. In fact, it was probably only about 50% successful. There were some really terrible sketches on that show. But that’s what happens when you aren’t afraid to fail, right? You know you have skill. You know you have talent. You put your joke in a cab and let it happen. You risk first, ask questions later.

There is a difference between failing and failure though. Failure as a result of creative risk is good. Failure is finite. Failing is something that happens on a continual basis. Failure is leaping off the cliff, failing is slowly oozing down the side of the rocks at a glacier pace. Failing is something that requires change.

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This is my lesson learned from the CODE conference. I am failing the teachers of Ontario.

This is by no means a ‘wah poor me’ moment. I know my skills, I know my talents. I know what I can do, and I am not doing enough to connect to teachers in my home province.

At the district level of the Sears Drama Festival there are 25 festivals across Ontario. Last year, I had plays in 14 of those festivals. For the most part the teachers of those productions have never met me, which is not in itself the bad thing. My plays get done in lots of places where I can’t get to see the show. And in a way, it’s good – it means that it’s the work that sparks the production. The work speaks for me.

But some teachers think I’m American. Some have no idea where I am in the province. They don’t know they could reach out and invite me to their show and depending on the location that I would try to come. And that I would talk to the casts after the show. They don’t know that I teach workshops. And that I love to teach workshops and would be happy to come to their festivals and teach workshops. They don’t know their students can email me and ask questions. They don’t know that the woman at the Theatrefolk table is Lindsay Price and they could talk to me in person about the plays.

This is a bad thing. This is what was brought home to me at the CODE conference this past weekend. And it only took five years. Better late than never I suppose.

The good thing, is that failing is changeable. Slow moving ooze can be dealt with. And I can take steps. Which I will.

About the author

Lindsay Price