Last month, I was at a two day workshop by Yael Farber at Nightwood Theatre. She’s a writer/director/performer from South Africa. The workshop was called “Playing With Fire” and was described as:
A unique, intensive master class facilitated by Yael Farber for actors and performing artists / creators, writers and directors interested to deepen their process and open access to their “core fire”.
It was the wording of “core fire” that caught my attention. It reminded me a bit of shamanism and passion and creativity. I had never heard of Yael Farber and I had no idea what to expect. But the word “fire” beckoned me seductively.
It was a great experience and is serving as a motivator to renew some of the passion and excitement I feel about writing. One of the things that Yael talked about was stretching ourselves as artists. Part of that is done by having a “bar” to measure ourselves against. And the best bar is ourself, not others.
Only we know what we are capable of. Only we know when we are giving 80% effort, instead of 100%. Only we know if we are really pushing ourselves or just going through the motions.
An analogy that Yael used was going to yoga class. Because she is naturally flexible she appears to be a yoga master. But she said that because she’s able to do those stretches, she actually has to really push herself beyond those stretches to get the full effect of them. Whereas, someone who isn’t as flexible may actually be pushing themselves much further even if they can’t touch their toes.
It is a matter of perspective. Your perspective. So what if you are more flexible or talented than someone else? Are you growing? Are you pushing yourself? The only time you can coast is when you are going downhill.
The key is that only you know if you are stretching yourself.
The concept was timely, because I was rehearsing a play. And I was feeling annoyed by the level of commitment and ability of some of the other people involved with the show. After thinking about what Yael had said, I realized that regardless of what I felt about the others, I wasn’t giving a 100% of my ability. I wasn’t pushing myself. Shame on me.
I mean, I wasn’t even off book yet and I had a small part! I decided to put up or shut up. But, it’s hard to push yourself. And when you use yourself as a bar, you know what you are capable of or what you should be capable of. More effort is required. More effort is always required!
In terms of writing, I was already on my journey to write a page a day. The thirty days are up and the habit has been initiated. Now, I need to keep it up. But I need to explore ways to push myself further in my writing.
Where do you need to push yourself to stretch yourself beyond the bar you are at?