'You have caught the doubt'
We've not posted for a while over the winter and I realised our last few blogs have all been about bench marks for our show: Previews at Moat Brae, 'Cutting the Fringe' and taking the show to Poland. They have all been based on moments of achievement.
Right now we are in the process of lining up our Spring Tour which coincides with J.M.Barrie's 160th anniversary. Confirmed dates so far include London at New Wimbledon Theatre (16th-18th April), The Other Place, RSC (30th April), The Place, Bedford (30th May) and a very special date in Barrie's hometown of Kirriemuir, Scotland on his birthday (9th May) in association with the J.M.Barrie Society's JMB160 celebrations. We have been working away on some exciting creative developments too...
But before we return to updating you on progress, I would like to take a moment to recognise part of the day-to-day process behind these tangible benchmarks - doubt -
in an attempt to demystify it and hopefully encourage people that may be wrestling with doubt of their own.
In Peter's story it is quickly established that, 'to have faith is to have wings' and as a society we are so used to sharing and celebrating stories of achievement - our 'happy thoughts!' - that sometimes 'flying' with just the right amount of 'faith' and 'magic' seems like the normal route to success, we don't always take time to acknowledge that doubt often follows every flight like Peter's shadow (If only we could take it off and shut it in a drawer).
In Barrie's prequel even Peter finds himself grounded by doubt. The wise crow, Solomon Caw, tells him; 'You have caught the doubt, you will never fly home now, not even on windy days' - a feeling I'm sure we're all familiar with.
Don't get me wrong, the journey of creating this play has taken huge leaps of faith and been sprinkled with moments of pure magic, as the universe has seemed to rush in to meet our efforts, but doubt has been manifest at every level and stage of the project; creatively, financially but perhaps most obviously in the decision making associated with the parts of this process which are entirely new to me, like producing and marketing.
A shadow is a good image, it never really leaves your side, but (and this is the important bit) whilst it is always present and may loom over you at times, it becomes much less powerful every time you 'do' something, even if what you 'do' fails, you cannot help but fail less and learn more than your doubts would have you imagine.
Doubt is a reality for us all, even for Peter Pan, but doubt is not the end of Peter's story and it need not be the end of ours. Solomon promises to teach Peter 'as many of the bird ways that can be learnt by one of such an awkward shape': in the same way, as I struggle daily to master strange new skills with my 'awkward shape', I must be willing to fail or fall short more often than I succeed in order to keep moving. Moments of progress that we share publicly owe as much to managing a relationship with doubt as to any 'faith' or 'magic'. We do not always fly, but like Peter we can learn new ways to solve problems and still get where we're heading by another route.
Recently I was encouraging a brilliant young creative to put on their own show (my new favourite hobby) when their doubts spoke, 'but I'm not a producer, like you'. A producer? Like me??! I couldn't help but laugh and I quickly disillusioned them: I am NOT a producer, I'm just a creative who happens to love this story and be responsible for this show. Every day I have to 'produce' my doubt reminds what I am not, what I am failing to do, where I am falling short - it is exhausting. Yet within this short fall, there is still undeniably a small tour emerging: A tour that I can assure you has not been reached by 'faith, trust or pixie dust' but graft .... and doubt.
So, if you have a nagging desire to create I would encourage you to get very comfortable with your doubts and do it anyway.
On the path to growth you can feel torn between who/ where you are (your limitations) and who/what you are becoming (your aspirations), where one ends and the other begins is not always clear. Like Peter you can find yourself as 'not exactly a boy' 'nor exactly a bird', but a 'betwixt-and-between' - maybe there's a comfort in owning that, especially when it's what you set out to be all along.