I’ve always loved the New Year. While I know that it’s a somewhat arbitrary construct, and every day is a new year from that day 365 days ago, it still gives me a pleasant feeling of both a fresh beginning and the satisfaction of completion. It’s a time to give pause for reflection on seasons past, and, for many people, a time when they deliberately contemplate things in their life that they want to change or improve upon.
I don’t go in much for resolutions; I don’t want to lose weight or run a marathon next year. Still, for anyone who works in a creative field, finding ways to keep growing and expanding, keeping the old grey cells humming away in new directions, is sort of a de facto New Year’s resolution, one you renew every year. (Hopefully it’s also one you manage to keep every year, too.)
Most years recently, my chief ambition for a new year has been “do more theatre”. Any fallow period where I’m not actively working on a production (even if I have other things on) is most uncongenial, so I always hope to keep busier with shows. Another one has been to read more plays, especially those outside my usual niche and comfort zones. It’s easy, especially if you have one foot in the academic world, to specialise too much; staying in familiar territory may be comforting, but it’s not really best practice as far as creative and intellectual growth are concerned.
On both fronts, 2015 was a more successful year than the previous one, and I’m hoping that 2016 will continue on that path. This year, though, my “resolution” reaches further: it’s not just do more or read more, but also see more. It’s very easy, when you work on productions frequently, to forget to make time to go to see theatre that isn’t your own – it can also be difficult to schedule. But there is so much out there, so much that’s really good, incredibly inspiring, and one needs those external creative jolts on a periodic basis.
I’ve always thought that one resolution that should be universal is to make an effort to simply keep learning. Maybe that sounds dull, especially if you’re enjoying some non-school time between terms, but new discoveries need never be reduced to something that might appear on a test. I always hope that people come away from our productions, or even from reading these essays, with some new nugget of understanding. I hope that will continue in the year ahead, and I also hope that the incredible amounts of learning that happen behind the scenes will as well. One of the best things about the past year has been seeing how much we have grown, changed, and learned from one another as a team; as we ring in the new year, I resolve to continue to be inspired and challenged by my colleagues at HIDden and our work together, and to do my best to pass that spirit on to you as our audience.
I hope we have the chance to see you at a production in 2016, and whatever your resolutions are, I wish you a joyful beginning to the New Year.