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Six Years

Dear Ma,

Well we’re here again, another year….. and I’ve got nothing to add to that.

Well I do, it isn’t very often when I’m totally speechless.

I think what I mean to say is, what can I add to that? It’s another year on, some days I miss you keenly, other days your memory is a thread that if pulled would mean I’d come undone. Don’t judge but sometimes, for sanity I choose not to pull.

What I am learning is that there is no rhyme or reason to these days. Often times I can steel myself for an event and be absolutely fine and then on a sunny day in June, I’ll be stifling tears in a supermarket because the spinach has jolted a memory.

Grief dances to the beat of it’s own samba band and what can you say in the face of that? Nothing much, you just have to dance along the best you can.

So anyway, there’s news, there’s always news. Even when I plan for a quiet year something comes up.

I’ve left theatre, well it’s actually only been a week, but I’m starting my own business so I’ve left theatre. I actually wrote a blog post about it, it went viral so that’s something to check off my bucket list. It’s weird writing that I’ve left theatre to you, in some ways I think I stayed so long because it connects me to you but so many other things do and it’s time to be a slightly different me.

I’m opening a massage studio; I’m basically taking all things I like the most in life and placing them in a beautiful setting and hoping other people enjoy it too. I’m excited. I’m excited to the extent that I can be excited, which is heaps while still waiting for the other shoe to drop (was I wary when you were still here? I often think your illness was when I became a slightly more pessimistic human, I think my own cancer finished me off, if you’ll excuse the rather unfortunate turn of phrase).

Actually you started me on this road too, enrolling me on a weekend workshop the summer after you were diagnosed. I think mostly, so I wasn’t just hanging about the house, making sure you weren’t going anywhere. Or maybe because in a weird Mama bear psychic link thing, you predicted this, I’m not sure I can whole heartedly get behind that theory but I know better than to mess with the Mama Bear Juju.

So here I am, at the start of a New Year, figuring out a new path in life. Another one. Without you. I’ve done a few of these now and it still blows me away, the influence you have on me, do parents know this at the time? Is that what makes childrearing so scary? That years after you are gone, your echo remains? Is that why people have kids (other than the continuation of a species, which I’m not going to lie, I sometimes have my doubts about) so that something of you remains and continues. I suppose it is comforting, along side being totally scary.

And here I am again at the end of our annual commune via the ethernet. Your echo remains. This dance for me continues and the year rolls out in a blanket of unknown future choices.

I love you Ma, of that there is no doubt and if in the star dust you now are the Mama Bear Juju is still strong, can you sprinkle some on the new business? I thank you.

Miss P

xoxo

ps O is Love

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A love letter, now that I’m leaving.

I fell into Stage Management, I was 22 years old with no plan, I had a degree that prepared you for nothing (back when you just needed a degree and didn’t have to worry about the debt). I was working little bit jobs, and not thinking about the future when a man I respected very much asked me to be an ASM and I remember thinking I have NO CLUE what that is but he thought I could do it and I trusted him. I thought at the very least it would kill 6 months; I ended up with a career.

I was right I didn’t have a clue, I learnt from many, many mistakes and from many, many patient people. I still don’t have a clue but I’ve got better at hiding it, plus I find smiling really helps.

Now 15 years later I’m falling out of it again. I’m down to my last week of shows, 9 performances, and I know that if I don’t write this now, I may not ever because I figure before the week is out I’ll be ugly crying and trying to take it all back because theatre is the most wonderful safety blanket, filled with the most wonderful people, many of whom, I count as my friends. I will be bereft but new adventures loom and it’s my time to go.

Being a stage manager is an odd thing to do, to want to do. In a nutshell we are the people who enable the people who work at inhabiting other people, in other worlds; we manage the story tellers, the dreamers and that is a hard line to tread.

You are introduced to a group of people on the first day of rehearsals and for the next month, 3 months, 6 months or year, they are your people, your family – sure you might not like them all but you’ll fight like hell to protect them.

As a breed we are are often perceived as officious or jobsworths, spoilers of the fun but I’d say 98% of us aren’t that way inclined. Stage Managers live and breath theatre, they care just as deeply about making a production work, they battle a hundred little wars to get to Press Night just the same as anyone else on the production. It’s just we work in the shadows, our job is not to be seen and so we’re a little strange.

But if you choose to work in this industry, at this time, I think you have to be a little strange. We are all misfit toys trying to make sense of this nonsensical world by story telling. That’s not something everyone chooses to do. You have to be tough to stick at it in a world that values money and power. In a world of cuts, where healthcare or schools or social housing or helping people across the globe has become the impossible either or situation; it takes brave, tough and pretty strange folk to stand up and say Art matters too, these stories matter and the way we tell them matter.

I feel I’m leaving my comrades at the worst possible time, there is less money but so much more need for theatre; whether as a distraction from the world or as a mirror to hold up to it. We theatre folk help to heal the rifts, shine a light on the the ugly, make things that are painful, beautiful or at least bearable and some times we just make you laugh until you think you might be sick. I am so sad to be leaving but I hope I’ll support those who remain in different ways.

I’ve had the best of times and the worst of times in theatres watching performances and working on them. I wrote my mother’s eulogy during a Dress Rehearsal, I had an Opening Night the day of her funeral, I worked up until my operation when I got cancer and I came back as quick as I could. Nobody made me do these things, I chose to because theatre has a funny way of saving your life. It’s never just been a job for me, it has been a heart and soul commitment; and it has been such an amazing ride but as such, it has meant other things have had to be sacrificed.

I had a lot of time to think about it a while back and for me, Stage Management is a younger persons game. I’m sure others wouldn’t get jaded or could make the work/life balance work but I am an all or nothing kinda gal and for now, for this moment at least, I need to step out of the shadows and peer at the world from a different angle.

But in this crazy, unpredictable world, in a year where it feels anything could happen (and only 45% percent of it good) my money is on the story tellers and the enablers of the story tellers because they are my people, my loves, my family and they do wonderful things.

Thank you to those who have made the last 15 years so very, very interesting; who have held my hand in the toughest of times and shared the happiest moments. I have so many amazing memories.

With Love Polly, stage manager no more.

Loop Massage, coming soon.

 

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Tell me why? I don’t like January (though not in a shoot anyone way)

I don’t like January.

I’ve tried really hard to like it. I like the idea of fresh starts, exciting challenges and “a new bikini ready body in just 30 days”, plus all the fireworks and champagne.

I admire the people who can sharpen their pencils, turn over to a new page and charge head first into the new with an optimism and determination that I cannot muster long term.

I like September for those kinds of goals, the start of the school year will forever be ingrained in me as the real fresh start. Mostly because I thought that one day I’d return to school prettier, popular and smarter than I left it in July, which never happened (I was just too oddly awkward for that) but a girl can dream. Plus autumn colours, leaves changing, the smell in the air and the still warm days of late summer.

Now I know I’m not alone, that many people openly admit to not liking January; it’s cold and it’s dark – nothing fun happens. Which is just the sort of underdog month I feel I should be able to get behind but I simply can’t throw my support that way.

I can feel myself tensing up as the month progresses, I get tetchy, unable to settle, everything feels a lot harder and I lose the ability to express myself. It’s like I’m living at a completely new altitude that I’ve not gotten used to yet. Or I want to behave completely recklessly, to be a selfish person, purely out for my own pleasure.

I start to fantasise about hibernating, burrowing away and pretending the world doesn’t exist. I shut myself down. I’m pretty sure the human equivalent is box-sets, a warm fire, thick curtains and endless mulled wine.

As you can imagine, I’m a complete joy to be around.

January can’t be about new starts for me because it will always finish with the spectre of the hardest ending – inevitably it will be about loss to me.

It’s tough this year because there’s a huge new project afoot, lots to do, to think about, to plan for. I’ve been so excited, and crazy scared and chomping at the bit – I’m finally changing up my life. I should be the perfect January New Start but all I feel is empty.

Yup, January, in this household, is to be endured.

Oh gosh, this is a sorry excuse for a blogpost. Apologies. I guess the reason behind it is to reach out to those of you who maybe feel the same, who can’t quite put their finger on it but don’t go crashing out the gates on Jan 1st, bright eyed and bushy tailed. Who look down out their to-do lists and sign not with satisfaction but with the enormity of it all.

What do we do because we can’t hibernate (that’s actually a question) can we hibernate? Well, what we do if we can’t put ourselves into stasis is;  put one foot in front of the other until February and then March arrive, which if we’re lucky, they will always do.

We take pleasure in small joys like baths and books and hot, slightly stodgy food. We stretch our bodies out and remove some clutter from our houses and our minds. We eat the chocolate, if that’s what it takes. We watch movies and light candles, cook for friends. We make ourselves a warm drink, wrap a soft scarf about us and we march towards March. We are the endurers of January and we will be kind to ourselves because sure as sure can be, one day, we won’t feel like this, we will see the beauty in the world again and we will get our groove back. I almost said we will get our fight back but we are fighting, we are powering on through, despite January and the best news is, we will get to win.