Running down Illawarra Road stark naked, extending my arms towards the distant sky with palms wide open … was what it felt like when I recently spent 90 minutes with Alicia Talbot.
It reminded me of when I was in my early teens when older students had scandalized the school with the then vogue act of streaking. I had imagined what it must have felt like. And now I understood. It is worth mentioning that in my high school full of American expats, streakers were always ironically, and perhaps predictably, children of missionary parents.
Driving away from Marrickville full of optimism, feeling freed from self-chained locks, I noticed the sky beyond the UTS tower and the clock at Central Station. This is not just a metaphor. I was actually seeing wider, further and more clearly, and I realized that for sometime, I had been looking no further than the next curve, the next set of traffic lights, the number plate of the car immediately in front of me.
Call it a belated mid-life crisis or the second return of Saturn, my life had been full of messy questions. Fortunately being half way through couple of consuming art projects meant that although experiencing inner tangled threads, at least on the outside, all I mostly needed to do was to follow the road that unfolded naturally as a consequence of decisions made before the crisis began.
My creative involvement in these projects, however had recently reached an end of its natural cycle, and thus: Where to next? Had been the question in my mind when I had attended the Australian Theatre Forum earlier this year. After listening to inspirational keynote speakers, panel discussions by highly regarded theatre artists and arts workers, and meeting stacks and stacks of new people, I decided it was time I asked someone for help.
Alicia Talbot is a highly experienced director and curator of contemporary theatre and performance, whose signature style works, often site based, in difficult emotional, social and artistic terrains. I had admired her for sometime. Could she meet me for coffee?
Instead of accepting an open ended friendly mentoring chat about my life, my career, all its anecdotes, opinions and potential gripes, Alicia offered me a special 90-minute program, which she simply calls 90 minutes.
Alicia’s 90-minutes is based on the premises of adaptive leadership. She explained this as a way of dealing with complex questions, which are so tricky that there is nothing we can rely on in the past that will solve them, instead we look to a different learning or adaptiveness as a way of grappling with them.
It began with a one-minute silence, allowing my own burning questions to surface.
How can I best be of service with who I am (my skills, my experience, my outlook on life)?
How can I do this without feeling like I’m giving too much of myself?
Is this giving actually art, and does it matter?
How can I find ways to learn and grow more?
Is my identity as an artist getting me stuck?
Why does my art need to be so worthy?
How I can I make my work financially viable / sustainable?
How can I open doors and walk though to places I have never been before?
… Then after several more highly structured process of discourse, Alicia’s magic happened, and I came away with a new beginning, a rebirth of spirit, and a clear pointer towards my path.
Watch this space.
There is much to share.
This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)