I just had an email exchange with a potential Field member who is at the beginning of a project and was concerned about how to use The Field when she doesn’t have any work that is ready to show yet. Of course I told her that that was no problem. A lot of work that people present at The Field is rough–and stepping up to present works in progress is a generous act that encourages others to do the same.
But personally, The Field has revolutionized the way that I work, especially in the early stages of a project, and this question got me thinking about why.
When I walked into my first Field session more than 2 years ago, I literally had no idea what I was going to do next or what I planned to work on. I had just ended an intense (and inspiring) year-long acting program and all I knew is that I wanted to keep my creative momentum going. For the first few sessions, I brought scraps of past plays and essays. And then one night, right before that week’s meeting, I had this dream that haunted me all day. I considered scribbling the whole thing down on a napkin and bringing that to present, even though I’d already dug up another bit of something to read that night, but I didn’t. Still, the idea stayed with me. Over the next week, I wrote three pages of text, and by the end of the 8-week session I had a rough–very rough–draft of my first solo show.
- It can feel like an act of bravery to show work to other people that doesn’t feel “ready”–and it is! But the benefits of taking that leap are enormous.
- It gives me a weekly deadline to create something–anything–to show. Because participants comment on your work at face value, there is no need to make excuses if it’s not perfect yet, which is great for the state of vulnerability that I live in at the beginning of a project.
- It allows me to see if my embryonic ideas are on track. Because reflective feedback tells us what others see in our work, it makes a great reality check at a time when my thoughts and ideas are most fluid.
- It gives me a way to consider new ideas that haven’t yet occured to me. I often find that I’m not really telling the story that I first set out to tell, and hearing another version of that story can help me make connections and clarify thoughts that are lurking below the surface, deepening my original intent. Usually I find that I’m a lot smarter than I think I am!
- And most importantly for me–it takes the isolation out of the creative process. Sharing my work right away–in whatever sketchy elemental form–gives it a life and energy that it doesn’t have when it’s all me and the laptop. All art eventually needs an audience and introducing the other into the creative process early on can be invigorating.
If you’re just starting a project or stumped about what to do next, consider registering for The Field’s November Mixed Discipline Session facilitated by Mimi AKA Allin.