Why Values are Priceless

As I wrote in my previous blog entry I have unexpectedly been involved in directing a second piece of theatre recently. Last week saw the sell-out performance of a great one-woman show written and performed by the very talented Tonya Joy Bolton of ICU Transformational Arts , and directed by yours truly.  And what an interesting and stimulating journey it has been.

I first met Tonya about two-and-a-half years ago, when she was still writing the script, and followed her progress with interest, offering her an occasional sympathetic listening ear, and advice and guidance when she asked for it. I was impressed right from the start with her energy and focus, and her determination to make her long-held and then seemingly impossible dream of producing and performing this 90-minute show come true.  So much so, she eventually coaxed me out of my 11 year “retirement” from directing, and convinced me to play a part in helping her achieve that goal.

Two less likely co-collaborators would be hard to imagine. Tonya is Black, strong in her Christian beliefs, and had written a play examining women’s experience within the Church. I am male, White, and a card-carrying atheist (in fact I am a Humanist Funeral Celebrant). Yet despite our very different perspectives on the world it has been an extremely happy and fruitful collaboration. I believe that this is because, despite our very different belief systems, we do share many similar values, and so had no problem working together on a piece that represented and explored those values. Of course, we would disagree and debate about detail, and argue over aspect of structure and staging as we searched for the best way of expressing the story, but always secure in the knowledge that we were both striving to achieve and express the same thing.

This very enjoyable creative process has been a fantastic reminder to me that in any field of endeavour, whether alone or as part of a team, if we want to achieve our best it’s vital that we believe in and support the values embedded in it. I am always aware that if I don’t feel I can commit time and energy to a work project with genuine integrity, it’s a strong sign that perhaps I should be doing something else.

In this case, it’s been enormous and challenging fun, and I look forward to further collaboration with Tonya next year, when we take the show on tour!

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