Why I'm a Creative
The journey I took to get to where I am now was a wild ride. From creating some of the best work of my career to nearly leaving the creative sector altogether. This is the story of why I work in the creative sector.
I find human life quite strange. From a very young age, we are guided towards a career path that we would wish to pursue. We explore various classes and subjects in school that prepare us for the world outside of education. Luckily, there are many job roles for us to choose from and, with a bit of luck, there should be something right for you. Unfortunately, too many times have I seen others pressured into high paying jobs when in reality, they would love to go down a different path than that. This path is usually within the creative sector.
I want to share with you why I have decided to dedicate my life to the creative sector. I will try and be as transparent as possible and provide insight into how I got to where I am and what I wish to accomplish in the future. I will admit; there have been times that I came close to switching directions and working to chase the price tag rather than doing something that makes me happy. However, what I want to achieve is simple: if you’re a creative in the sector, I want to remind you why you’re where you are and not give up. Every time we lose someone like you, a world becomes a lot less interesting.
The Young Creative
I have shown a creative side from a very young age. I began by writing weird, quirky song lyrics to poorly made music on free software found on the internet. Then, I would spend hours inside my room teaching myself the basics of creating music and analysing already written lyrics. My music career did not last long; however, it showed me that I loved creating and seeing the audience react to what I make. My mother used to cry every time she heard me sing, while my dad already understood that his original plan of training me to become a footballer was out of the window. I was fortunate to have such supportive parents that allowed me to explore what I wanted to do with my life, and knowing they were right there behind me, cheering me on, is something I will never forget.
I began to do everything all at once, none stop. I practised magic while creating weird dishes, experimenting with presentation and flavours. I would also practice street dance, mostly body popping, and would upload tutorials to YouTube. Despite only having a small audience, this was the first time I experienced people that were not my family watching my content. I fell in love with the feeling, and I was not ready to stop experimenting with what is possible. You have to know that I was not aware that what I was doing could be a way of earning a living; I was simply happy, nothing else. I dabbled in photography, videography, online live streaming and YouTube, and many other creative outlets that allowed me to express myself in ways I could not do previously.
During Secondary School, we got to decide four subjects that interested us that we would study alongside our core subjects. I was fortunate to choose four creative subjects: photography, graphic design, media and film studies, and drama. This was the first time in my life that others referred to me with a title that fascinated me; an artist. It was also the first time I could focus on a field that I did not have access to before; the theatre. Like many others in the world of theatre, I began as an actor. I studied plays thoroughly, learnt scripts for auditions, and soon found a type of magic onstage not found anywhere else. No other creative outlet provided me with this feeling. I refer to this time of my life as the planting of my passion—the first steps to get me to where I am today.
Once I finished Secondary School, I moved to York, where I would rent a small house in the city at 17. With the support of my parents, I was allowed to explore freely what the theatre world would offer me. Instead of going down the A level path, where I would choose four subjects in my first year and move down to three in the second, I decided to dedicate my entire college life to the study of theatre. I managed to get onto the BTEC Extended Diploma Performing Arts – Acting. This is where, for the first time, I was allowed to explore the field in-depth and see what I love the most about theatre. I quickly found that I prefer to see others receive applause while supporting the show. I also enjoy theorising future movements and ways of creating. With the help of my tutors, I realised that the path I would take would be a directing and theatre theory career.
My time at York College, alongside receiving excellent grades when graduating, allowed me to get onto a BTEC Contemporary Theatre and Performance course at Manchester Metropolitan University. This course would enable me to produce new, innovative work without any limits set by traditional studies. I needed an environment where I could be radical, a place that allows strange things to happen and study the whole scope of the theatre spectrum. During my time at university, I spent my second year studying in Portugal, where I founded my first theatre group, the O-Theatre Collective. A group of like-minded artists now surrounded me, all striving for a common goal: to create the theatre of tomorrow. We were young, free, and took no from nobody. We experimented with everything we could find. I began to blend theatre with other forms of the creative world, sending me back to what I was doing as a child. My work touched on contemporary dance, visual art, mime and clown practice, film and media, and many others. My thoughts were radical as I challenged everything I read, seeing how past perspectives can be adapted and developed for modern and future purposes. It was the best time to be an artist, and soon I realised that once I left university, I would have to adapt myself to the tempo of the outside world and focus on income rather than freedom of thought. To remember this, I wrote a personal manifesto called ‘The Life of a Young Artist’, where I channelled my predictions of what would happen once I graduated. The sacrifice of time for means of income, the dilution of my work to suit a particular audience to become ‘established’. The struggle of finding work without necessary experience; I wrote it all. I knew I had to go to London to begin my journey. So, with my partner and two of my closest friends, we move to the capital. As we’re all part of the O-Theatre Collective, I was happy that the creativity would stay within the household. I did not expect the change to be so drastic and nearly shifted me off course from the path that makes me happy. I had my first taste of the harsh reality, and I barely made it out alive.
Nearly Giving Up
Once I left university, I was ready to give it my all when moving to London. The first step was to find a way of paying the bills to have some security to create and invest in my work. Luckily, I managed to find a position as a customer service team member at the New Wimbledon Theatre, where I could earn a decent living alongside watching phenomenal touring shows every week. I always said that there are two things a director needs to do to improve: read theory and see live performance. Having one of these two as my means of earning a base living was a tremendous advantage. I pushed myself at the position and soon got promoted to supervisor and stock supervisor, which gave me a deeper insight into how a theatre organisation works. Unfortunately, this was short-lived as soon after my promotion, the pandemic struck, and the theatres shut their doors. We are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but this was enough to put a pause on my theatre practice. A year stuck inside writing is not enough to pursue. The creative sector was going through an epidemic in itself, and many left during this period to find work that is more ‘stable’ and provided more returns. I became quite depressed during this period and questioned my position in the theatre. I could do so many other things that could bring more income now rather than work my way up and benefit more in the long run. My manifesto worries were becoming true, and I found myself searching for paths I did not want to walk. I felt like I had to do something.
I do not enjoy sitting in one place for too long: it's not in my nature. Luckily, before I made any drastic choices, I joined the BECTU theatre union. This is where it all changed. I became a Union Representative (currently going through my second set of training to represent other creatives through the union on legal matters) and are set to become a prominent member of the Union Wimbledon Branch. The union provided weekly zoom classes and workshops that provided us with experience, knowledge, and, most importantly, motivation. It was good to see that it was not only me that was suffering. We were all in the same boat and, as long as we stayed together, the theatre world would never fall. Many have tried before without success, so I was not ready to let them win now. A fire lit inside me that has not stopped burning since.
I Cannot stop; I won’t stop
The union is what kept me going. Quite quickly, I found myself in a position where I became a Union Representative (currently going through my second set of training to represent other creatives through the union on legal matters) and are set to become a prominent part of the Union Wimbledon Branch. The union provided weekly zoom classes and workshops that provided us with experience, knowledge, and, most importantly, motivation. I met some fantastic people and made great contacts that I will pursue once the lockdown is relaxed a little. I have finally begun my first project in London and have the pleasure of working with the most talented people in the industry. It was good to see that it was not only me that was suffering. We were all in the same boat and, as long as we stayed together, the theatre world would never fall. Many have tried before without success, so I was not ready to let them win now. A fire lit inside me that has not stopped burning since. I express this fire wherever I go, and with this drive came more and more opportunities. I find myself applying for anything and everything that comes my way. I want to do it all. The world is finally my oyster, and I have now realised that if a pandemic cannot stop us creatives, nothing can. I am now back on the path that makes me happy, and I cannot wait to share what I will create in the future. I cannot wait!