ArtsLab Shopfront's artists in residence


I am the ArtsLab12 imposter.

I am the writer amongst the performer/devisers.

I’ve tried to stretch my bounds these past two months. I’ve tried to “just get into the space” and “devise” and “create”. I’ve hidden the mass amount of confusion that all of these present at every turn. And each time I try something I feel it comes out wrong. Like I just don’t get it. I’ve tried experimenting with sound, props, video, projections. All of them have scared me to hell.

I want a computer and Microsoft word. I want tea and quiet. I want my empty house where I can bake in the middle of the night while waiting for the next scene to materialise in my head.

I’ve been trying to confirm to all involved that I’m a good writer. That I may be failing at all these other things in front of them, but that’s because I’m confused and scared and don’t know what I’m doing. Give me a script based challenge and I’ll be all over that like a rash. Then the Love Bytes competition came up, part of ATYP’s The Voices Project. A monologue competition. I sort of put all my confidence in as a writer into that competition. I wanted to use it as a tool to say “hey look! Other stuff I make may be juvenile, but look at me write”. Needless to say, I failed at that too. So it’s not just the new stuff I’m royally stuffing up, it’s my “true calling”, my “greatest passion”, that I’m mucking up as well.

Now I’m in crisis mode. I went all-in on confidence with one piece of writing and now I’m left with none. I have a showing in one week. Of what? Of some poorly conducted “experiments” and words on a page that I don’t have the ability to adequately judge anymore.

And now I feel maybe I conned my way into this residency in the first place. Maybe the panel was just so tired and I brought them candy like a paedophile or a witch and they hopped right into my van/gingerbread house. And maybe it wasn’t based on my potential in the arts sector at all, maybe it was based purely on the quality of the royal icing I make. Who can tell these things?

So yes. Crisis. It’s on going.
I’ll just have to keep on trucking and hope that no one notices that I don’t fit. I’ll act my little heart out and maybe I’ll be so convincing they won’t realise I have no faith in myself or my work at all.
Oh, except wait. I’m not an actor.

Responses (6)

  1. Khat says:

    This is the self-doubt monster rearing its head. A friend told me the other day that as young artists we need to be comfortable with the idea that we have great taste but need to develop our skill level as we go and that everything we poop out might not be genius material.

    YOU have great taste Ava and you shouldn’t be afraid to put your work out there even if you feel its a failure. This experience will develop you as an artist even if you feel the product of it is not as magnificent as you want it to be. Keep making what feels right to you- I am SO excited by your work and what you are making. 🙂


  2. Dear Ava,

    Dearest, dear, beautiful Ava.


    You have just outed yourself.

    You have just identified your self to us in your delicate dotted and crossed words.

    You have just shaped and crafted something ( a confessional blog post) out of the deep dark nothing that experimentation sometimes conjures.(a profound self doubt)

    And all I can say is Congratulations – you are on track. And thank you for caring so much about your craft and vision, that you feel in crisis.

    This is where the work begins.

    Here is a note from your invisible board member/ cheer-leader/ advocate and fan, to remind you and to point out to you that you are exactly enough as you are, with your fear, and your doubt and your wishes and your comforts… and all these things must, MUST be challenged, so you can defy and stand tall, assert in full voice, with steely certainty – that you are who you are and you make what you make.

    I was there when you presented to us, at your interview a beautiful cakey diorama of your horror story dream. And it spoke to me fully and truly. I saw and heard your clear, bright voice and marvelled at your eloquence. I was hurt and in awe of your desire for us – your panel- to crack open the roof of the gingerbread house set you had made for your play – and you invited us to , like giant monsters, devour your work. And we did. And your icing IS good. But your heart and your bravery is better.

    That took extraordinary bravery and courage.

    And on a side note – it is impossible to con me – or Chris – or Caitlin we’ve been around the traps for FAAAAAARRR TOOO LONG!

    Your invitation for our act of destruction was the start of a new creation. An invitation to fail. To feel uncomfortable. To feel confronted and awkward and out of place.

    Because this is what an artist is.

    And in someways needs to be – to observe what is and what has been and what could be.

    All artists struggle with the push and pull of identity. Confused by construct or the expected or the industry… often offered advice by others – some who will get you, some who won’t.

    I can only say this:

    Ava Karuso, I read you before I met you and I was delighted. When I met you I was spellbound. When I, from up the back of the Concert Hall at the opera House saw you in your dress ask Tom Stoppard a question about being a playwright – I was certain that you are marvellous.

    And this IS tough. And this IS scarey. Failure hurts (but is really a silly self imposed label). You tried something with Love Bytes… and perhaps it didn’t suit you.

    Try it all, reject it all if you want – but let yourself know what isn’t “you” – and don’t judge yourself for being different.

    Delight in and celebrate it.

    Stay strong knowing you are, the one and only Ava Karuso…

    If nothing else at your showing I will be there to pour you tea and remind you of this.

    With much faith and admiration,

    Augusta Supple

  3. Tanya Thaweeskulchai says:

    Ava. Are you working today because I’m calling you.

  4. Katie Pollock says:

    Dear Ava,
    We don’t know each other but I want to thank you for writing this post.
    You have bravely articulated a state we all find ourselves in some of the time, or a lot of the time. Self-doubt, fear that you’re not up to it, worry that everyone will see through you.
    I think it’s an integral part of being an artist. Arrogance is poison; questions are where art is made.
    I really like this quote from Stephen Sewell: “When you think you’re writing shit you’re about to discover gold.” So keep going.
    Yours, Katie

  5. Martelle says:

    sweet heart. bitter. sweet.

    I was thinking can you bring your baking in to your playtime.
    maybe the piece will be quiet.
    maybe the smell of tea, or the different colours…there are flowers that open up in tea!

    maybe baby



    “Maybe Baby”

    Maybe baby, I’ll have you
    Maybe baby, you’ll be true
    Maybe baby, I’ll have you for me

    It’s funny honey, you don’t care
    You never listen, to my prayer
    Maybe baby, you will love me some day

    Well you are the one that, makes me glad
    Any other one that, makes me sad
    When some day, you’ll want me
    Well, I’ll be there, wait and see ee ee

    Maybe baby, I’ll have you
    Maybe baby, you’ll be true
    Maybe baby, I’ll have you for me**

    Da da ta da da da da da da
    Da da ta da da da da da da
    Da da ta da da da da da da

    Well you are the one that, makes me glad
    Any other one that, makes me sad
    When some day, you’ll want me
    Well, I’ll be there, wait and see ee ee

    Maybe baby I’ll have you for me

  6. Martelle says:

    and thank you for your honest beautiful report above.
    You make me feel braver