I was looking through some old photos, came across my graduation pics from January 2015, and realised it’s been five years since I graduated From my MA in playwriting and screenwriting. The reason I first moved to London. It made me think, was it worth it?
Not the actual move (although that could also be a blog post in itself) but the MA. Do you need to have a degree in something creative like playwriting? My short answer is no. I don’t think you need formal training to become any kind of writer. It might be a cliché by now, but I do believe reading plays, seeing plays and reading books about playwriting can be just as beneficial. And at the same time, write, write, write. That’s the most important bit!
However, the two years of university benefitted me. I was new to the country, I was dipping my ink into a new language and I hadn’t written a play or screenplay since about the age of ten. The MA gave me a social space to learn (scary as it can be), to receive feedback (frustrating as it can be), and get an understanding of the theatre landscape in my new home country (overwhelming as it can be). Had I moved to London without the course, I wouldn’t have had a clue where to start. How do you find trustworthy critique? Where do you send your material? And how do you keep writing even when it’s not going very well? (Some of these are still a conundrum.)
I guess what I’m trying to say is we all have different resources to work with. Not all of us can take the the time or free up the resources it takes to study. And not everyone feel their most comfortable in higher education. Luckily there are other ways to learn (and it’s not like we ever really stop learning) so please don’t get discouraged if a formal degree isn’t a part of your path! Life experience is much more important! Curiosity is much more important! The willingness to grab whatever opportunities do exist around you is much more important! Yes, certain degrees will help certain people get the foot through the door easier and quicker, let’s not beat about the bush. There’s still plenty of inequality in theatre, but I don’t want to believe there’s no space for a variety of voices from a variety of backgrounds. Or if there isn’t yet then there certainly should be and we all have a responsibility to make it happen. We all have to be tenacious. Because that’s how theatre keeps evolving, and that’s how great stories are told. (And it’s also the right thing to do.)
I don’t actually have much to say except HAPPY NEW YEAR! We’ve stepped into a new decade and I couldn’t stand the notion of not having written anything yet on this side of 2020. A new decade … My fourth one on this planet. I’ve always been good at plotting stories, but when it comes to my own life things have never quite followed the intended structure. Maybe my life editor is a bit of a lazy one? Or really enjoys the unexpected? It’s definitely been an adventure.
Anyhow, last year was a bit of a milestone on the writing front. A new play of mine was finally sent out on tour and according to reports from the theatre and the media things are going well. That makes me really happy because the themes of the play are very close to my heart. I just hope the audience members are better at following the play’s suggested advice than I am! I wrote the bloody thing and I still find myself struggling on a daily basis. It’s definitely one of those “Do as I say, not as I do” kind of situations. But it’s hard sometimes. Luckily my audience is young, and clever, and they won’t have learnt silly behavioural patterns for almost four decades. Four! (But I’ve also heard that old dogs actually can learn new tricks so don’t count me out just yet ….)
Right, everyone raise their glasses, coffee cups and sustainable water bottles and help me wish us all a “HAPPY 2020!” May it be a good one.
I have a cold. The upside is I’ve had some extra time to type up notes and scenes for my (very) new project. If your ideas are like mine, they don’t respect your writing hours but pop up whenever and wherever and you better be there to catch them even if all you have to write on is an old crumpled receipt.
About a month ago the idea for the play began to stir in my mind and almost the first thing that came to me was the set. A strong vision of what the staging should look like. What isn’t so strong is my ability to draw but in that moment of inspiration I grabbed a post it and a pencil and drew … that. I could try and tell you it’s bad on purpose so people won’t steal my ideas, but honestly I’ve never been very good at drawing. I love using colours. I love creating things from different materials, but I never got around to learning how to draw. Maybe there’s still time?
Anywho, I just thought I’d write this little post to highlight that we all have our talents, we all have things we’re naturally good at but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do all the other things too if we enjoy them. Drawing that picture gave me great pleasure in the moment and that’s all that matters!
Reviews are a tricky thing, on the one hand you don’t want to give someone else the power to decide what your production is worth, you’ve worked hard, you’ve done your best and whatever anyone else thinks about the end result it shouldn’t matter. You should feel proud of what you’ve achieved. On the other hand it’s always nice to know that someone appreciates your work. Maybe it’s part of the human condition? We want recognition for the things we do.
Also, when it comes to reviews of for example plays, books and films, they can heavily affect the future. If your project doesn’t get enough good feedback it might struggle to attain an audience. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. Sometimes it’s helpful. We all have limited time and money. We look for guidance. But when you’re the one being reviewed, you naturally hope it’s a positive verdict.
That’s why I’m very happy that Lyckomanifestet has had good feedback so far. I’ve been made aware of two reviews, one by Helsingin Sanomat, the largest Finnish speaking newspaper and one by Hufvudstadsbladet, the largest Swedish speaking newspaper in Finland. It’s wonderful to see that they get what we’re trying to do and they feel the different components, the script, the acting and the direction all support each other to create something that works well for the intended audience. The play will be touring for quite some time so there might of course be a whole variety of reviews along the way, it’s all very subject after all, but the positive start is very welcome after all the work we’ve done and all the work the actors still have left to do. Yippee!
What’s motionless and doesn’t breath? A playwright watching the premiere of a play she wrote. (Or is that just me?) I hadn’t been present at the rehearsals of Lyckomanifestet so I felt very much like a “normal” audience member not quite knowing what to expect. Luckily I left the theatre having both laughed with the characters and felt compassion for them. A huge thank you to actors Jonna and Micke who fluently weaved in and out of 9 characters in no less than 2 languages!
Also a big thank you to Theatre Taimine‘s director Oskar who made it his mission to create a fast paced, bonkers play with heart. Attempting to speak to 13 to 19 year olds in the home environment of their schools can provide its own challenges, but I hope the play can inspire some important conversations wether the play itself was to their liking or not.
After the show we all assembled in the theatre’s lovely home location and celebrated the start of an extensive tour around Finland. I’m in awe of the energy and commitment it will demand of the actors but I also hope they’ll have a great time with some meaningful encounters with the audience. In addition I got to meet the others in the team, for example the choreographer and set designer, which was great fun. Please see here for full details.
Before leaving Helsinki again on Friday I had the pleasure to visit Radio Vega (YLE) to do a live chat with presenter Hannah Norrena about playwriting, the new play and my life in London. Together with a couple newspaper interviews, that’s the extent of media I’ve done this autumn so far. Now we just have to wait for the reviews …
I feel very excited about my play LYCKOMANIFESTET having it’s premier next Thursday. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to fly to Finland again and see the opening show. I’ll be a bundle of nerves, for sure, but in the best possible way.
At the same time I’m moving forward with other, younger, projects in the UK. I’m looking to find suitable homes for my text babies and it’s a stark reminder of how difficult it can be to get your work seen and produced. Multiple rejections are a part of the “game”. It’s easy to credit previous “wins” to luck and feel like you lack the “right” connections. And suddenly you question the quality of your own work more than you ever questioned the quality of any of your ex boyfriends. (Jk!)
However this makes me appreciate next week’s experience even more. We need to allow ourselves the joys of present successes even when we’re already working towards the future. This is it. This is what I was working for a year ago. This is that future. It deserves its own moment.
Hi! This isn’t going to be a frequently updated blog but occasionally I might want to post something that doesn’t fit in on the two main pages. It might be relevant news or musings. It might be something that inspires me as a writer.
This weekend my BF and I travelled to my former hometown Helsinki. We visited the new public library Oodi, which has been voted the best new public library in the world (and it was impressive!) and to my great joy I located my own novel Falskt Spel, which was published in 2005. It’s lovely to think young adults still have access to my book all these years later. I couldn’t resist taking a foto!