Destination or Journey?

Feature in Issue 5-2 | Summer 1993

We seem to recognise that no man is an island. We acknowledge that to nurture, learn, grow and enjoy the exchange of give and take, human relationships are as fundamental to the development of an individual as times of introspective solitude. Why is it then, we are so blinded when it comes to translating this attitude into a professional artistic output?

In a confusing world, the need to create order is great. We do this by ‘pigeon-holing’ early in life; at eighteen, one is supposed to know without any prior knowledge or experience, the chosen career for life. No wonder we have a society of dissatisfied students who feel ‘trapped’. This can be the only outcome when forced to develop at an unnatural rate and compete against fellow human beings.

Traditional British Drama training enforces this role; ego and competitiveness are encouraged in favour of teamwork, individual development and growth as a group. No wonder the British are accused of ‘from-the-neck-up’ acting – how can the body ever be free or fluid under all that pressure!

We feel comfortable with artistic ‘labels’ – writer, director, performer, musician, etc; in truth, many creative people feel they cross-over into a number of areas, and a large number of physical theatre practitioners (which has after all developed as a hybrid artform) originally trained as actors, designers, musicians, etc, not to mention accountants, merchant bankers, and even air traffic controllers!

Having a broader training over a number of years, creates more skills, more empathy with the work of others, and an ongoing learning process where the journey has as much importance as the destination.

Where we land in trouble with collaborative work is when one becomes more important than the other. If the destination has greater weighting, then the final achievement looks like a ‘forced’ process; a goal decided on before time is unlikely to produce an original or truly evolved piece of work.

However, where only the journey is important, we fall into the problem of ‘artistic self-indulgence’ which becomes so full of ‘introverted meaning’ that the final piece fails to communicate to the audience at all.

Collaborations that stem from a natural empathy, development and enthusiasm, and the unique contributions of all involved, can only be a step forward; we are in serious need of support and encouragement to make sure we are heading in the right direction.

This article in the magazine

Issue 5-2
p. 17