ArtsLab Shopfront's artists in residence

Final thoughts

Ok, so first of all, apologies are deserved. It has been a very long time since the closing night of the Three season, and I was meant to write these final thoughts quite a while ago but today is definitely the day to gather my thoughts about the whole process and put pen to paper… or finger to keypad.
Looking back on it now, the main thing I have realised is how blessed I was with the amount of support I had throughout the whole process. The final product was the result of so much hard work from so many hands, I can’t really call the project all mine, which I am quite pleased about (not because I want to put blame on other people, ha ha, more in the sense that I’m glad that more than just myself can claim ownership to this wonderful creation). Coming into the ArtsLab project, one of my core beliefs is that a work is stronger in collaboration, and one of the things I really wanted to explore were the strengths and weaknesses of ensemble, and how to work with an ensemble to create exciting theatre, the type of theatre that has inspired me throughout my performance career, the magic moments.

I… have never directed before. Those that saw the piece will be shocked at that news (I am of course, being sarcastic, damn non-vocal medium). I am in no way saying this as a discredit to my performers though. Each person I brought on board this project went above and beyond. I kept saying to everyone that one of the best decisions I made was in casting. I was only really interested in working with performers that I knew were genuine and down-to-earth onstage because each of them brought something to the stage that was so inexplicably and utterly watchable.
However, choosing to direct my final piece instead of performing it gave me some very hard lessons. The phrase ‘fake it til you make it’ was my silent mantra over the final two months and I think there are some aspects of directing I really didn’t know how to handle and some that I handled probably better than others. Whenever I get asked what the ArtsLab process was like, I found that I kept saying to everyone, ‘this process really showed me what my strengths and my weaknesses are.’ And it’s true. In that sense it was very humbling because I will be the first to tell you that I struggled. A lot.
I struggled with the directing part mainly because people look to a director for answers that I didn’t really have, and I started panicking because I didn’t know the answer. What I later came to realise was that it was ok not to have answers, and that the only problem was when I froze up and didn’t try anything because I was so unconfident with not knowing the answers.
Lesson: When you don’t know, try something. If you’re too scared to do anything, nothing will happen.
It’s hard for me to bring everything I learnt into a final few paragraphs. Hard for me to articulate things properly, even now, five months later. Thoughts jumble and sift and are still filtering. I have a feeling this is one of those things that will come back to me in six months and I will realise something new from it and then again in a year something new will occur to me and again in ten years I will think to myself ‘Oh, that’s why that happened the way it did’. And that’s ok, I’m gonna be around for a while, so I can put these lessons into practice as I learn them. In the mean time though, I will continue to make work [watch this space], continue to learn, continue to meet new people and continue to develop.
I want to end by thanking all the people at Shopfront who made my experience unforgettable – it was truly a wild ride. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
– David Buckley –

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