Why I got back into The Arts and the Meaning of Life
I graduated in June 2015 in Drama from John Moores University with a 2:1. Between then and Christmas 2016, I got myself involved in as much as I possibly could in terms of acting, lighting and sound effects, stage management and anything I could get my hands to gain experience… I even dressed up as a Bell Boy for Cunard and Cruise Liverpool to get continually mobbed by pensioners and snobby Americans for a free ‘gift bag’. Which was literally a generic bag for life with Cunard slapped on the side that for some reason, pensioners got violently possessive about. But after that, all this came to a halt. I got sick to the back teeth of the world I was living in. I got fed up of doing 12 hour shifts in a restaurant I didn’t want to work in, to go to five hours of rehearsals that half the actors didn’t turn up to and the other half, the directors didn’t know how to organise a rehearsal.
So, I threw in the towel. I gave up everything I had known and learnt for the past four and a half years and lashed it all in the bin. Finito. No more would I run myself into the ground for a restaurant that I despised and for productions that I would only be performing to family and friends. Besides, I had the perfect excuse. I had signed up to go to America in the summer of 2017 for my second stint at Camp Awosting (if you’ve got kids, send them there, they’ll love you forever, you’re welcome.), so ‘there was no point in getting involved in anything as I would be leaving soon.’
So, for the last 18 months (the same amount of time I spent jumping into every opportunity I could after graduation), I steered very well clear of anything to do with the degree I studied three years to attain. How mind numbingly stupid does that even sound? I spent three years – and £45,000 plus interest – to do a degree I couldn’t even be arsed to put to good use anymore. If that isn’t one of the most idiotic things I’ve ever done then I will eat my hat.
After coming back from America last year I applied to study a PGCE in Secondary English (which I am pleased to announce resulted in an unconditional offer from Edge Hill), but I still didn’t really mix with the same people that my best friends were meeting on a regular basis through the medium of the connections they had built throughout the time I had sat on the sidelines of this community. Every week or two I would have a conversation with one of my friends and all these names would crop up that I had never heard before and I would be told about them like they were someone we had known for months:
Friend: So we were talking to Dave last night, right. And he said something SO FUNNY!
Me: …Who’s Dave…?
Friend: You know Dave?… Dave! You know, from the theatre?! DAVE!
A tumbleweed rolls past in the background while my expression remains blank and my friend charges forward with the conversation. Undisturbed by the fact that I have no bloody clue who Dave is.
That was basically the be all and end all of the conversations I had with a lot of people a lot of the time. And then it all changed.
I can remember the exact moment it hit me. I was watching a performance by third year Acting students from LIPA in the new Hope Street Theatre and all of a sudden I had this massive urge to create things. I saw how they used a projector to have a conversation with an actress onstage and somebody else via iMessage. I saw how the energy from an actor can be transferred to the audience through just a look. But most of all, I saw people enjoying themselves. Both onstage and off it. The actors I saw in all of the performances from LIPA seemed to really enjoy themselves on the stage and that transferred to a lot of the people in the audience. Giving the crowd smiles and laughter throughout the performances and more importantly, when they were all leaving the theatre to go back to reality.
That is when I realised that I had been doing it wrong before I threw in the towel – and for a lot of the time afterwards as well to be honest. I’d stopped having fun. For some reason, I had reached a point in my time after graduation in which I turned into the thing we all dread and fear as children: A SERIOUS GROWN-UP. *DUN DUN DUHNNNNNNNN*
I had taken my degree and experiences as a graduate and turned into some kind of fun hating Grinch who metaphorically lashed bricks at clowns and street performer’s heads. Asking them ‘How are you going to pay for your mortgage AND all that face paint?’ When in reality, all they wanted to do was make me laugh and maybe make a few quid out of it while they were at it.
And that my friends, is the whole point of the arts and everything that goes with it (no, not making a few quid out of it, you greedy bunch of Capitalists), it makes you and other people feel bloody lovely inside, doesn’t it? Now I’ve never been one for being a soppy little wet wipe (otherwise known as a ‘snowflake’ according to my uncle Trevor). But I tell you what I am absolutely in favour of? Laughing. I absolutely adore a bloody good knees up.
And I’ll tell you for why I love to laugh. It’s good for you. Like, REALLY good for you. Not only does laughter release endorphins into your blood stream (the body’s natural feel-good chemicals). But laughter has also been shown to decrease the amount of stress hormones in your body as well as increase the amount of immune cells and anti-bodies in your blood, thus improving your natural resistance to disease.
How boss is that!? Laughing literally makes you harder! Just by finding something to laugh at, you are actually making your body more difficult to come down with sickness. Now if laughter and enjoyment wasn’t already good enough for all you misery guts out there. You now have an even bigger excuse to put Dumb & Dumber and Monty Python on!
I dare you, in fact, I double dare you (no padlock, no take backzeez) that there is nobody on this planet, not one single person, that doesn’t love a right knees up and a good old chuckle every now and again. Whether it’s my mum and dad laughing at something on Coronation Street, a teenager laughing at their latest celebration dance on Fortnite. Or me… Sat in the Hope Street Theatre, laughing my head off at Liverpool’s best and brightest putting on work that aims to please.
So I ask, no, I implore each and every one of the 10 people who will probably read this, to do me a small favour once you are through with this blog:
Bring a little bit of fun into your life. Revisit your inner child and laugh as loudly and annoyingly as you can at least once a day.
Go and watch some local stand-up comedy, get a game of 5-a-side football together with your mates, people watch at a coffee shop or go to your local park and boot the kids off the see-saw so you can have a go. Find some local theatre to enjoy, walk the dog in the park or sing to your heart’s content in the shower or at a karaoke bar. It all counts and it all helps. We did not evolve through billions of years of this planet’s history to sit behind a desk, looking at Microsoft Excel for 40 hours a week, counting down the days until the next bank holiday weekend, did we?
Life is what you make of it and if all you care about is spreadsheets and getting reports done for your overly flirtatious boss, just so you can get drunk and nurse a hangover at the weekend, then you’re not going to have that much of a life to look back on when you’re on your deathbed are you? So get out there and get some jokes told. Find a film you haven’t watched in ages and let yourself get lost in your own imagination… Or if all else fails, get yourself down to the ECHO Arena and laugh yourself silly at the maniacs absolutely stacking it on that massive inflatable obstacle course in the Royal Albert Dock!
If anyone needs me, I’ll be throwing myself into as many creative projects as possible.
Like a great friend of mine once said:
‘Live life + Love life = Life loved.’
So get out there and live your life for fun will you.