My blog has lain rather fallow these past weeks. Not for want of stuff to write about, or even time if I’m honest. And it’s not that I haven’t been writing, either – I’ve been doing rather a lot of that, but nothing that would be appropriate or sensible to publish. It’s not been a very fun time lately, and my blog has been very far down the list of things to occupy myself with. In my more melodramatic moments I have thought about taking it down altogether, but I didn’t give into that – so here we are!
It’s been nearly three months now that my relationship ended, and whilst I could easily write a very long agonising post dissecting the sadness and sorrow of it all, you’ll all be relieved to hear I won’t. I’ll just say that it’s been really fucking sad and I’m listening to a lot of Jacques Brel and crying at films and TV ads and feeling sorry for myself right now, but as I wrote in the last entry there are also lots of good things in my life so there is no need to be unduly concerned about my welfare.
So let’s focus on the beginnings bit instead. Since late April I’ve been working with Fabrica and enjoying getting to know yet another of Brighton’s iconic arts organisations. My commute is at an all-time low at just under four minutes, so I can even go home in my lunch break. More importantly, the team there are lovely and talented and all the things I mentioned in my last post about working in the arts very much apply. It’s a small organisation and everyone works part time, which makes for an interesting work dynamic and also interesting people as most of them do pretty cool stuff the rest of the time, from managing the Brighton Digital Festival to DJing to producing video art.
My role at Fabrica has the dual purpose of Generally Managing Stuff and making the organisation more financially resilient. Both these things at times appear somewhat daunting – I had never been responsible for a 200-year-old building, for starters – but at the same time there are many opportunities to make a difference which is exciting. It’s very useful for me to get a proper insight into how an arts charity operates and also very good to be able to come into an organisation with clear objectives and expectations of what I need to do. The job feels in many ways like the culmination of everything I have worked towards over the past two years, calling equally on the business experience I shored up in my previous career and my (still evolving) knowledge of the arts sector and arts fundraising.
And, after two years working freelance, my new role is permanent and feeling a bit more settled is something I was ready for. I am still with South East Dance the remaining two days of my week and I realise again how good it is to work for different organisations. It means you can keep sharing ideas and applying the things you learn in a different context, plus you don’t get bored.
So, all in all I feel really rather lucky in terms of work and, as I said in my last post, it does contribute massively to just keeping me on my feet right now. Brighton in May also offers plenty of opportunities for distraction of course and I well and truly hurled myself into it this year, seeing a total of 17 Festival events and three Fringe shows so far (there are still a few days of Fringe to go…). All this with varying success at capturing my attention, incidentally: as it turns out, watching Laurie Anderson noodle soporifically for two hours did not do the trick and neither did Akram Khan’s latest work, however technically accomplished and beautifully staged it was. Even during things I really appreciated and loved, like Belgian theatre group Berlin’s beautiful documentary/performance about Chernobyl, my mind wandered all over the place like a disobedient child.
Three things really stood out for me: one being, of course, Operation Black Antler by Blast Theory and Hydrocracker, a meticulously choreographed, thought-provoking and unsettling piece of immersive theatre. I also hugely enjoyed seeing Nederlands Dans Theater 2 again for the first time since I was (probably) about 17 – even though Paul Lightfoot’s choreography has clearly not moved on an awful lot since then, his first piece was just kind of nostalgic for me and their final piece, Cacti by Alexander Ekman, was just a mind-blowing, riotous whirlwind of excellence. The third thing that I really got lost in was Shakespeare’s Globe at Brighton Open Air Theatre on the last Friday night of the Festival – a superbly put together production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona with clever staging and fantastic actors. To be fair, the fact that it was a beautifully sunny Friday evening, with exuberant birdsong all around, and that I consumed over an entire bottle of Prosecco during the play, may have contributed both to my enjoyment and to my increasingly less precise understanding of the plot.
The other new beginning is that I have a flatmate! Having not lived with people I have not been in a relationship with since I was 23, this is definitely newsworthy. It took me a while to find someone and I did briefly go down the SpareRoom/Gumtree route which was a little scary. I managed to avoid any Shallow Grave scenarios though as my South East Dance colleague Rowena turned out to be looking for a place and she moved in this Bank Holiday Sunday. Rowena eats a lot of peanut butter, dances with a local Charleston troupe and occasionally does handstands in the office. She has already contributed a Tom Selleck fridge magnet to the household, as well as a fair few Bruce Springsteen records, so things can only go from strength to strength I reckon.
It is definitely a time of gritting my teeth right now. But rather than giving in too much to the existential angst that comes with being a single woman in my mid-thirties, I’m trying to heed what Jacques said: voici venu le temps de vivre; voici venu le temps d’aimer.