What did you dream about becoming when you were a child? Did you pretend to be penguins and popstars, or did you always want to become an Account Manager? Do you still pretend, from time to time?
Do you sit at your desk wondering how you got there? How satisfied are you in your day-to-day working life on a scale of 1-10?
These are the questions we - ClusterFlux - have been asking while making our show. We had spent our brief youth being ballerinas, superheroes, superstars and collecting hedgehogs, but then rent was due and the pointed questions from parents and friends got a little too much:
What even is a theatre-maker? Why can’t it just be a hobby? How about a vocational profession? Who’s going to pay you to become a hedgehog collector?
We were once gifted kids wowing everyone with our choreographed dance routines at family barbecues, but then we became full-grown adults and our fantasy lives as artists were no longer cute or endearing. So, we got real jobs. Jobs that tire us, frustrate us, give us structure, a sense of purpose, but most importantly they pay actual monies.
These days, a lot of our meetings and rehearsals are taken up by talking about work. Paid work that is. Sometimes it feels like we should be spending less time talking about trying to make ends meet, and more time working on our show, but the more we tried to do that, the more we kept returning to our daydreams, about what we could be doing instead, about when we might get a full night’s rest, and when we’d become fabulously rich and famous.
In the mechanical routine of our busy day-to-day London lives, we often get doughy eyed thinking about how things were going to be, when we were just little sprogs and the world was wide and weird and anything could and would (eventually) happen. When we started talking to each other about our expectations for where our lives were going, we realized we weren’t the not the only ones grieving the commodification of every aspect of our lives, and feeling the intense pressure of making big life decisions based on the values of money and security rather than our passions, ambitions and happiness. It is then that we began to realise the value of letting our minds wander, of acting out our childhood dreams through imagination and play in whatever ways we could. In our impressions of our work colleagues, in the notes we write on our phones, in singing along to our favourite songs.
We got out the digital copies of our VHS home videos and had a big nostalgia fest. We wrote about the people we thought we would become, and the reality of the lives we’re currently living. We talked about how although none of us have our dream job, we still get to meet up, tired after a full day of ‘real jobs’, and try to make theatre together.
We remember that we aren’t made for work, that we aren’t made for anything at all really, and the only ones who get to decide what we are for, is ourselves. But of course, these kinds of revelations are not legal tender. We still have to go back to the reception/office/theatre/bar and put on our most soothing and agreeable voices. But it’s important to follow the distractions, to see where they lead, if only for the mental break.
Making this show has meant starting a lot of conversations about work. About what it does to us, and how we can make it work for us. We know how it feels to tread water and we want to build bridges and understand how we can support each other, keep dreaming, and make our dreaming part of our waking day.
Wed 8 March at 7:15pm