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Letting Go

There she is in all her glory. Jan Gregory of 2wp’s next production -- Ask No Questions: Family Secrets -- sitting on our spare bed (which happens to be in Jennifer’s office), preparing herself last weekend for another day of working on the show.

What a day it proved to be. We all thought the script  was set and ready. Then, as Jan began a read-through so that we could get some better idea of timing, we all knew we were wrong. Where was the flow; the vitality we’d all anticipated and were striving for? Somehow they seemed to have disappeared. They were gone.

For a moment, we looked at one another in despair.  “Leave the script,” said Jennifer. “We’re done with that,” And we were. Jan set the pages down. She stood by the couch in our living room, a teller. She began to tell the tale. The shape she had built so carefully remained strong but the means of it were altered. Elements we’d all believed to be so satisfying quietly dropped away.  

When Jan headed back to Montreal on Sunday afternoon (minus her car’s wing mirror which had come off in a small skirmish with a tree when she’d arrived on Friday evening and followed Jennifer’s not quite appropriate instructions for entering our far too icy road)…

When Jan headed back she was smiling, knowing the time had truly come to start moving into performance mode: the time for taking what she had created more deeply into herself, for trusting the voice of it, for readying herself to speak Ask No Questions in her own inimitable way.

All this is simple for me to write but the step she had taken when she set the script down represents one of the most difficult aspects of any creative endeavour. Always and always you dream up some phrase, build some structure, detail some episode, evoke some underlying concept. Whatever it is, it seems so brilliant. It may indeed be so. Nevertheless you have to let it go.  You have to accept that it was simply a way of moving yourself forward, a part of the process – a part that will block and bind you if you persist in clinging  to it once its time has passed.

“Kill your literary darlings,” they say. Over and over, I find myself facing the necessity of that. Something like it comes up in other parts of life, of course (back to the need I mentioned in my previous blog for distinguishing between tradition and bad habits, for instance). Still, it somehow seems most  wrenching in that work I have struggled so mightily to bring forth from nothing; that work I want above all to make perfect; that work which is closest to my soul.

But, there we were in our living room and the shift had been made.  Once it had, it was as if each one of us had taken off a set of blinkers. We could see so much more clearly what had to be added and adjusted so that Jan would be enabled to carry her listeners into her family’s world. It’s a journey backwards -- first to post World War II Britain and then beyond that to the pre-War poverty of an industrial northern British town. It’s a journey that has to do with solving a mystery; a journey built of silences and teeming life.

Hoping you can join us, or perhaps find means to bring 2wp's work to where you are. Delighted to report that although it's cold today the sun is shining. The ice on the lake has tones and shades beyond describing.

Thanks for your company, Jan



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