Last month I went to Theatre Forum’s All-Ireland Performing Arts Conference (APAC) for the first time and it was brilliant. I left Sligo having done the seemingly impossible and become even more excited about my career choice and even more enthusiastic about the arts. The spark for this was the torrent of ideas and that flowed over the course of the two days. There were myriad inspiring and interesting talks from practitioners and people such as poetician Brigitta Jónsdóttir and Sir John Tusa and, just as importantly, there was constant conversation flowing around the venue, in the hotel and even travelling to and from Sligo. The conversation made its way onto Twitter and Facebook and just a few days ago podcasts of the talks were published on Theatre Forum’s website, giving anyone and everyone with access to the internet a chance to engage. (The podcasts are available here. Have a listen to some of the fantastic speakers, and keep an ear out for yours truly!)
This sort of sharing of thoughts, opinions and ideas is invaluably important in the arts. All too often ideas are kept in little locked drawers until they are perfected, until the finished product has been completed, and I think this needs to change. I’m as guilty of hiding away some piece of work that I may love but can’t entrust to anyone else until it is finished. But it never is. Art is always evolving and changing. Take a show for example; does it stay exactly the same for every night of the run? Of course not; the performers and crew change it slightly each night whether consciously or unconsciously reacting to events and surroundings. A song will change with every performance, with every voice that sings it. A poem will never be read in exactly the same way by two different people. A painting will look different from every angle and in every kind of light. Just like this, an idea will never quite be the same for each person, and that is the beauty of it. As soon as you share an idea it begins to grow, it takes breath and energy from whoever sees it from a similar, but refreshingly different angle to yours.
So I say talk to someone about your grand idea. Read a friend that poem that you think is a bit rubbish. Tell your housemate what it is that you have been cooped up writing for the past three evenings, only emerging from your room to replenish biscuit supplies and refill your teapot. Release your idea into the world, like a kite soaring into the sky guided by the string in your hand.
As Goethe once wisely said:
“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward: they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.”